Social isolation – as damaging to a person’s health as smoking

“Social isolation, whether it is caused by distance or by mental health challenges, is known to be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking,” explains Sally Chorley, Manager at HUTS Workshop – Help Us to Survive.

Based in Newcastle Emlyn, West Wales. HUTS, has recently been awarded a grant of over £400,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund to enable it to expand its service to support adults with mental health challenges. The charity has been working in Newcastle Emlyn for over 16 years and the Fund’s support will enable it to provide a brand new Befriending and Outreach service.

Sally adds: “We’re so pleased that this grant from the National Lottery Community Fund will allow us to provide a much needed befriending service for people primarily under 50 years old living in South Ceredigion; often in deep rural areas – to have access to regular home visits carried out by our trained befrienders.”

“Everyone needs a friend, someone to share things with, somebody to talk to or simply somebody to sit and enjoy a coffee with. This is basically what a befriender is. Think of your friends and how different your life would be without them. Imagine dealing with a mental health challenge, imagine living in a remote area, think how isolated you might feel if your partner was no longer living at home with you.”

HUTS 2Research from the Mental Health Foundation says that one in four people will experience some form of mental health problem in the course of a year and that depression is the most common mental disorder. Social isolation, whether it is caused by distance or by mental health challenges, is playing its part in adding to these statistics.

“Not only is this service of benefit to the befriendee there are benefits to the befriender. The desire to give something back to the community is often the first thing a volunteer will think of. Maybe they have used a similar service themselves or know of somebody that has. Perhaps the befriender has time on their hands which they want to use in a positive way, or maybe they simply want to remain socially active themselves.” added Sally.

HUTS also provide opportunities for adults with mental health challenges to explore their creativity through artistic expression through running workshops in rug making, pottery, jewellery design woodwork to name a few.

HUTS operates on a basis of confidentiality between everyone who uses the service. If you would like to know more about HUTS, or the new befriending and outreach services and whether this is for yourself or somebody else, simply contact HUTS on 01239 710 377, by email on or via the web site.

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  1. Fascinating stuff. Sarah Rochira, the Older People’s Commissioner in Wales has said that “Loneliness and isolation is a modern public health epidemic”, and if we can prevent this, then there are massive savings to be made by the health service, and we can greatly improve people’s lives. Great post!


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