Last updated: February 28, 2024

Recent studies have shown that people have never been lonelier. There was, of course, the isolation caused by the pandemic… but anyone in a bad relationship will tell you it can be lonelier being in a bad domestic situation than being single!

As humans we need connection and support. It is actually quite surprising the places we find connections that can help us feel better, supported and remind ourselves of our abilities.

The obvious inner circle is friends and family – if we are lucky enough to have good ones close by. But sometimes those people can provide the wrong kind of influence or well-meaning family members can be fixated on us ‘sorting ourselves out’. Everyone’s family and friend network is different, so it’s worth considering other pathways too.

Then there’s the different kinds of support you need. Is it a listening ear, someone to mind the kids, help you with your financial planning, get you places or just someone to make you smile on a rough day?

Here’s some great pathways to build both practical and emotional support outside of your immediate friends and family.

  • Sporting or special interest clubs – Reading, picking up a football, working out at the gym or going to a Cosplay convention. Your interests are where you’ll find your people. Look to increase your engagement with the things you love and you’re in a good spot to meet new friends.
  • Kids – From Mother’s Groups, school pick up settings to kids sport and community events, where your kids make friends you can also. And sometimes you might make a friend with a parent who’s kid isn’t even close to your own. Being a parent can feel isolating – and other parents can understand you and you may be able to help each other out practically with pick-ups or child minding when important commitments (like job interviews!) come up.
  • Neighbours – Good neighbours and even the small business owners in your local village can be a great place to find support. A cup of tea with someone who’s not in your immediate friend and family group can provide great perspective. And they’ll benefit from your views too. Some days a quick walk down to the local supermarket or bakery and a chat with your regular server can put a smile on your face. Don’t underestimate these interactions. That’s why older people love a chat – feeling connected to other people is a true source of enjoyment.
  • Your local doctor – Building a relationship with your local GP can help you manage any manner of health issues – physical or mental – that are presenting as a challenge. Living with chronic pain, having anxiety and depression, or living with addiction issues can be really tough. A good doctor (there are some great ones who are bulk billed) can help connect you to a range of specialists and services to help with ailments. And through those you may meet other people facing similar challenges and make new friends.
  • Pets – Unless they are an African Grey Parrot they aren’t saying too much, but pets are incredible support. Sure, there are those with official support animal qualifications trained to help with specific health conditions, but anyone can benefit from the company of a furry friend who wants and needs our love just as much as we appreciate theirs.
  • Volunteering – Participating in a support network can provide support for us too! Helping others feels good. And you’re likely to meet some other great humans who enjoy helping others too. Volunteering can also put perspective on our challenges. We realise that others have it tough too sometimes. It’s all part of the human experience that can be helped by support networks!
  • Work – You might have expected to read this in our newsletter but it’s true. Plenty of people meet their closest friends and even partners at their place of work. Having a place to go every day gives you a sense of purpose and opens up a whole new bunch of people who might actually become really important parts of your support network.

Of course at Employment Plus we aim to play a key role in your support network – particularly when it comes to helping you find work, and getting financially independent, which will only continue to help you broaden your network of friends and supporters.

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