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Mental Health Awareness Week: Tackling loneliness through our Befriending Programme

5 May 2022

Good mental health is important to our wellbeing, and we are committed to raising awareness of mental health as well as supporting residents and staff who may be experiencing challenges.

Mental Health Awareness Week logo

This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week (9 to 15 May) is loneliness. Connecting with people is key to supporting good mental health, that’s why befriending schemes like the one set up to support Sanctuary Retirement Living residents is so important.

We all feel lonely at times. It’s a totally normal human emotion. As a species, we’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more of it. Long-term loneliness, on the other hand, can be very unhealthy – for both physical and mental health. It’s been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, cognitive decline and poor sleep. According to figures from Mental Health UK, people who feel lonely for long periods are more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia than those who don’t.

Loneliness and isolation are on the rise. Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. That’s why befriending schemes are so important. Kickstarted by Sanctuary’s Employee Volunteering scheme at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Befriending Programme connects Sanctuary employees with Sanctuary Retirement Living residents. You can read more about staff volunteer Kirstie and Harold, a resident at Lawley Bank Court here.

If you’re a Sanctuary Retirement Living resident, or a relative, and are interested in signing up for the Befriending Programme, watch our video to find out more and speak to a member of staff at your local service. For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, visit

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