New winter campaign to raise awareness of rural loneliness

A winter campaign has been launched to raise awareness of mental health support
A winter campaign has been launched to raise awareness of mental health support

A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness of support available as levels of loneliness and anxiety increase in rural communities.

New research from NFU Mutual has revealed that ongoing lockdown measures are taking their toll on the mental health of the British public.

The insurer’s customer survey shows that more people are feeling stressed (+7%), anxious (+3%) and lonely (+2%) than in June 2020.

Now a winter campaign has been launched by NFU Mutual and the Samaritans, to help those in need who live and work in rural areas.

The charity’s Real People, Real Stories campaign reaches out to those most at risk, particularly men aged 20-59 in agricultural industries.

In the six months of restrictions since March 2020, volunteers have provided emotional support more than 1.2 million times by phone, email or letter.

Research with over 1,400 of the charity’s workers suggests that around 1 in 5 calls are about coronavirus, with volunteers suggesting it is mentioned in almost all calls.

Anxiety in particular has increased among callers month on month, even as lockdown is being eased.

Customer comments from NFU Mutual’s research further highlight the growing need for support services in rural areas.

“I feel very isolated. I live a half mile from my nearest neighbour, so rarely see anyone let alone talk,” Philip, North West.

“Life is very different, and I feel so alone not able to do things I used to,” Sandra, West Midlands.

“An unending nightmare. Everything we worked for through life towards retirement- coffee with friends, meals out, holidays abroad - all compromised with no obvious end,” Peter, South West.

Jo Lumani, head of reputation at NFU Mutual, said emotional and practical support offered around the clock was 'vital' for rural communities.

“Through the Charitable Trust we work closely with a range of charities to support causes across all corners of the UK who are changing lives and giving hope for a better future.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit.