Connecting with You
Our Inaugural Loneliness NZ Newsletter
Tēna koutou katoa, Talofa lava and warm Pacific greetings.
Welcome to our very first newsletter! We are a brand new organisation, and very appreciative of the many people who have already supported us in big and small ways! We look forward to continued collaboration, and support and us helping many more lonely people.
- How we began…
- Our significant achievements this year
- Charity Status
- Our Advisers
- Our External Relationships
- Our Clients
- Our Focus
- Submissions to Government Consultations
- But wait…. there’s more! ** Government embracing loneliness **
- Conquering your loneliness through the holidays.
- Our thanks and best wishes to you
How we began…
It all started when we were disturbed by the shocking New Zealand OECD results on bullying and suicide. Our discussion back then led us to consider the broader context of people’s lives; and the various feelings that accompany being bullied, and suicide ideation. We thought that in addition to any other feelings – and there would potentially be many, including conflicting feelings – the one in common at some point for each person was very likely to have been intense loneliness.
Taking a call from a lonely person was often a real challenge because chronically lonely people tend to paradoxically push people away even though they want to connect to people! Getting out of this spiral is really hard for a lonely person.
So we explored three areas to really understand what was happening globally and in New Zealand on loneliness:
All the above led Spencer and I to create a vision of an organisation dedicated to conquering loneliness in New Zealand – to be the voice of those lonely people – and to help people understand the importance of social connections at an individual, organisation and societal level.
Our significant achievements this year
In August we were thrilled to have our charity status formalised with a retrospective date effective April this year.
Successful organisations have passionate people, and people with complimentary skill-sets… and while our trustees have a unique blend of skills, we recognise that we can do so much more with further skills, and people equally passionate about helping New Zealanders.
- Professor Philip S Morrison (Victoria University of Wellington).
- Lisa Rudolphe (Auckland Museum).
- Orquidea Mortera (Selwyn Foundation)
Lisa is an award winning fundraiser.
Our External Relationships
And then there was developing Loneliness NZ – starting the mission of addressing loneliness.
Two of the trustees spent several months travelling between Auckland and Wellington, fostering relationships with people from a wide range of organisations who have an interest in loneliness. We consider each of these a success.
Each conversation has helped us further, enabling us to participate in several government related initiatives related to wellbeing. And we have greater exposure to active research projects. Thanks to everyone in these organisations who has hosted us for conversations and workshop sessions, and for steering us to others!
Age Concern, ANZ, AUT, CCS Disability Action, DBF, Graham & Co, Lifewise, StatsNZ, Treasury, Health Promotion Agency, Moving Web, Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, Selwyn Village, SIA, Synergy Partners, Transformation Academy, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington.
We look forward to continued and new collaborations.
Lifting yourself out of entrenched loneliness – that is, coming out of your “discomfort zone”, and seeing yourself in a different way – takes considerable effort!
We are here to guide you through this significant challenge!
In this newsletter we make suggestions for getting through the holidays… essentially be kind to yourself, and also be kind to others.
What a great start to highlight some of the critical issues! So our focus changed. Influencing government was now going to be a top priority.
Over the next several months, we spent considerable time concurrently doing the following:
Submissions to Government Consultations
– Where we highlighted the need for a cohesive approach to addressing loneliness.
Political agendas prevail! We face the same reality as many organisations – competing interests in a very tight budget framework. So we feel really pleased with ANY impact that our reports have had – and that, amongst others, we generated considerable discussions of loneliness, isolation and social connectedness wherever we had the opportunity.
But wait…. there’s more! ** Government embracing loneliness **
We are thrilled to say that loneliness is definitely on the government agenda, as the outcomes of some of the above government initiatives have now been released.
Hon Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance, 2019 Budget Policy Statement
“In other areas as diverse as the quality of our rivers or the levels of loneliness, there is a need for significant improvement.”
“Areas such as loneliness… need improving. In 2016, … 17 per cent of New Zealanders felt lonely in the last four weeks. Additionally, there are clear ethnic disparities in peoples’ social connections and sense of safety.”
Click this to see the video of “Q and A” interviewing the Minister of Finance for more explanation on how loneliness fits into the wellbeing budget (The discussion starts at 2 minutes 20 seconds into the video).
Treasury Living Standards Framework
- Loneliness – Percentage of adults by how often they felt lonely in the last four weeks.
- Social support network – Percentage of adults who report they have friends or relatives they can count on in times of trouble.
- Discrimination – Percentage of adults who experienced discrimination in the past 12 months in New Zealand.
- Māori connection to Marae – Percentage of Māori adults who feel strongly connected with their ancestral marae.
He Ara Oranga : Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction
Prior to our submission we addressed the panel at a public forum, highlighting that the latest research showed loneliness was a risk factor for mental health. In our submission we highlighted around 30 societal drivers. So we are pleased to highlight these two paragraphs. We acknowledge that many of these social determinants listed affect a person’s loneliness and social isolation.
“Clear links exist between social deprivation, trauma, exclusion and increasing levels of mental distress. Our wellbeing is being further undermined by aspects of modern life, such as loss of community, isolation and loneliness.”
Conquering your loneliness through the holidays
However, to avoid disappointment, accept the reality that others of you will nonetheless struggle despite absorbing all these different pieces of advice.
So, let me propose three strategies that I sincerely hope will help.
Begin understanding your thought processes when you become lonely.
Professor John Cacioppo, the world authority on loneliness, died this year. The legacy he leaves us is the understanding of ourselves – how we need people and yet how as individuals we have defence mechanisms that hinder our relationships – sometimes with the very people we want to be with!
So treat yourself to exploring what a world expert on loneliness has to say. Understanding what goes on inside your head – and inside many, many of the 64,999 other lonely people’s heads – will go a long way to helping you understand how you can also help yourself better.
For those of you who like a tangible book, “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection” by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, is a very enlightening book, and might help you think about your own situation differently. Alternatively explore some of John Cacioppo’s internet articles, and TED talks.
Make each day of these holidays about giving.
We forget about what we can give to others.
This type of thinking makes ourselves, and sometimes those around us, sad. So actively shift your mind to thinking the best of each person you know – your gift to them, even when they don’t know it! And include yourself – your gift to you!
Give your loved ones the gift of a guilt-free holiday.
My wish for you is that you will feel exceptionally good doing this very kind service!
Our thanks and best wishes to you
I have no doubt that we will be in for exciting times…and many challenges! And somewhere between now and June there will be another newsletter!
And connect with others as much as you can – to family, friends and whānau – and anyone else less fortunate than you, especially anyone who might be experiencing loneliness and/or living in isolation.
CEO and Trustee of Loneliness NZ