For many Australians, the festive season is one of joy and connection, where friendships and family are celebrated, food is shared and holiday plans are made. Yet for others in our neighbourhoods, that sense of togetherness, warmth and belonging will not be felt, and rather an acute sense of loneliness will take hold.
Christmas Day might be lunch for one, sleeping rough or spent with the paralysing uncertainty of not knowing where family is, after being separated because of war or conflict.
There is hope. At Red Cross loneliness is not something to be ashamed of. We’re there for people who have nobody else: calling and visiting, driving them to appointments, offering one-to-one support to those struggling with mental illness, or giving a warm welcome to those seeking safety from violence or persecution.
We know loneliness doesn’t discriminate. It stealthily creeps into our lives, no matter our age, gender or ethnicity, and takes hold when tragedy happens, like losing a loved one, a divorce or losing your job. And if you don’t catch it early, loneliness can reach chronic levels and have a significant effect on our health.
But it’s bigger than that. When there’s no one by your side, and you’re feeling deeply isolated, communities start to become less trusting, there’s more fear and places start to feel less safe.
It’s time for Australians to change that. Red Cross is calling on you to make this the Season of Belonging, by taking simple steps. Be kind on social media, say hello to your neighbours, volunteer or check on someone you know is in trouble.
A donation to Red Cross will also help us continue on our mission to work with half a million of the most socially excluded Australians to build the vital connections they need. You can help: redcross.org.au/act