Open letter campaign

"All she said was 'how are you, Janet' and I burst into tears."

Almost all of us have suffered loneliness from time to time, but these feelings can be amplified when caring.

As part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness’ spotlight on carers (14 August – 17 September), we’re urging carers to write anonymous open letters to the people who have made you feel less or more alone – perhaps without even realising it.

If you’re a carer, send us your open letter to the person who did something different that made you feel either more, or less, lonely.

The anonymous letters could be aimed at anyone who has impacted on how lonely you feel: from a doctor who listened, to an unsupportive friend who didn’t.

We’ll use the best letters and quotes on social media or on our website to encourage people to think about ways they could support carers in the workplace, community and in their personal life.

We would also look to share the letters with selected journalists for media stories.

The aim is to start a conversation about loneliness, grow understanding of how caring can be isolating and share experiences of what can help to break this isolation.

Here’s an example letter. Your letter could reflect a positive or a negative experience, be hand written and illustrated or typed in an email.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A letter from Janet


Dear Barbara,

Although I see myself as a strong person I had been feeling very flat and low. I have cared for more than 30 years – for my sons who have autism and other behavioural issues and other family members, who may have taken ill for long or shorter periods of time. Most recently, I’ve cared for my mother-in-law who had a dementia diagnosis and couldn’t cope living on her own any longer.

I don’t know how I’ve coped for all that time; I do try to stay positive. Life can be so busy as a carer, I might not spend every day on my own, but I lose the sense of who I am and that makes me feel lonely.

I’d always enjoyed going to carers’ events in the past but I booked into one when I was feeling low and I was dreading going. I pushed myself to attend but I was quieter than usual. One carer noticed I seemed a bit reserved. All she said was, “how are you Janet?” and I burst into tears.
I told her how I was feeling and that I’d had enough. My life felt like the exact same day over and over again. Nothing was new, nothing was changing and I felt like a robot with no time for my real feelings to come to the surface. I cried throughout the whole conversation. It was the release I needed, but I never managed to tell her just how nice it was to have an opportunity to talk to another carer who understood.

It might have only been one short chat, but she made me feel much better for weeks.

With thanks to Barbara,

Janet
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take part

If someone has made you feel more or less lonely and you never got the chance to tell them, let us know by visiting: https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campa ... paign#sec2