"Loneliness doesn’t discriminate": Red Cross director Jody Broun calls for season of belonging in NSW

Jody Broun has called for a "season of belonging" in NSW.

Jody Broun has called for a "season of belonging" in NSW.

The season of giving is upon us and NSW Red Cross’ director, Jody Broun, is reminding people to think of those that “are lonely during the festive season”.

Surveys conducted by the Red Cross revealed that one in four people feel lonely during the Christmas period, and respondents said that if they had felt “connected in simple ways” then they might have had a better Christmas.

“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,” Ms Broun said. “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.”

Ms Broun believes that it’s important to remove loneliness during the festive season, even just for a day, and called on all residents of New South Wales to make sure they are “there for people who have nobody else”.

That might be in the form of calling, visiting, offering one-on-one support for those with mental illness or simply offering a warm welcome for those seeking safety.

“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,” she said.

“If you don’t catch it early, loneliness can reach chronic levels and have a significant effect on our health. 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.”

Ms Broun asked those that couldn’t help by being active in the community to spare a donation for the Red Cross appeals, or to investigate what they can do to help online at redcross.org.au/get-involved.