Ageing Well: Staying connected

Loneliness and bereavement


Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our life, but it can feel like loneliness dominates some people’s lives. You might feel lonely because you can’t get out and about as well or stopped doing things you used to do or had had a big change in your life, such as retirement, the death of someone you care for or an illness or disability. Feeling lonely does not necessarily mean you have no one: you can be living with someone, but still feel alone.

You can often connect to family, friends, new people and your wider community and there’s help to do so.

You could:

  • make sure you keep in touch with family or friends routinely – by phone or online if you need to – and ask them to visit. Talk to them about how you feel.
  • ask someone in your family or friend to help you set up and use your computer or laptop. There are also some volunteers who can help you start using technology, such as Coffee and Computers (external link), which can also help you connect to others as well.
  • try to keep up with your interests and hobbies, or think about joining different groups, activities, sports or events you may be interested in.
  • you might just simply want to meet or talk to someone who can contact you regularly. There are a number of befriending schemes that offer ongoing and supportive 1:1 or group support. We know it can feel awkward to meet with someone new, but there are volunteers who can help you connect with others.
  • The council, NHS, including your GP, and Haringey’s voluntary sector have staff and volunteers who can talk to you about feeling lonely, help you decide on what you would like to do and then connect you to things you might enjoy, such as community groups.
  • one good way of meeting new people is to join or volunteer for a local community group if you can and have time – helping others is a great way to help you.


Coping with the death of a loved one can be extremely hard. You may be dealing with lots of different emotions, finding it hard to process them and having difficulties moving on. There are practical things you may need to do when a beloved dies, such as registering deaths, arranging funerals or sorting out homes and belongings. You can find out more information about this on our Bereavement page.

Grief can make you feel many different things, including upset and angry. This is a normal part of dealing with things and may last some time. Feeling vulnerable and afraid is natural. You may feel that you have little control over your life or your thoughts or you may feel tired or stressed. Take care of yourself: try to eat well and get some rest even if you can't sleep and get help with practical things: you will begin to feel more able to deal with life.

Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed. It can take a lot of courage to admit you're struggling, but don't keep it to yourself - it could help to talk to someone. You may feel low and, if this doesn’t lift over time, you may be depressed. Remember, you don’t have to try to cope on your own and help is available. For example, you can make an appointment with your GP to talk through what might help - see the 'Feeling low' section below.

Useful resources

Befriending services

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Feeling low

We all feel low sometimes – when we’re upset, angry, worried or sad, often after bad news or crisis, like an illness, accident, worries about money or family or death of someone close. Low moods often lift after a few days, but if they go on, it could be a sign you’re depressed - talk to someone.

What should I look out for?

Someone in your family or a friend may be low or not themselves (upset or worried, not keeping in touch or not looking after themselves). They may be lonely or live alone – reach out and help them to talk about it or get help, particularly if they’re very low.

What helps?

Top tips are to:

  • connect - keep in touch with, and get help from, family, friends or services
  • keep busy - as far as you can, keep your hobbies or interests going or try new things. Join in!
  • be active, look after yourself - make sure you manage any health conditions you have. Eat, drink and rest as well as possible. Try to keep active – go for a walk or even do sitting exercises
  • take notice - find small things around you that cheer you
  • give, volunteer to help others – it helps you too!

What do I do if I need help?

If your low mood won't go away and affects your life, professional help is there for you, particularly if you feel very low or have a crisis.

If your low mood continues, talk to your GP, or contact the services below:

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Local amenities

Staying connected to your local community is important for your quality of life and mental wellbeing. Accessible transport services may be available, as well as activity centres and support with shopping.

You can visit a local community centre to find out what activities are going on in your local area.

You can also ask your GP about their social prescribers, or local navigators who can help connect you to like-minded people and activities you enjoy.

Useful resources

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Being a carer

As a carer, you might be looking after a family member, partner, friend or neighbour who needs support because of reasons such as illness, frailty, disability, a mental health condition, or substance misuse.

The amount and type of care that carers provide varies considerably. A carer might provide round-the-clock care and live with the person or people they care for, or they might provide a few hours of care a week – for example, to do grocery shopping or collect medication. Some carers juggle their caring responsibilities alongside work, studies and other family or community commitments.

The challenges that a caring role brings can take many forms and everyone’s situation is different.

It can take a long time for carers to recognise that they have a caring role and ‘self-identify as carers. If you are looking after a family member, partner, friend, or neighbour who needs support, you can:

  • contact Carers First, which offers information on how to identify as a carer and gives advice about what to do next:
  • ask your GP or other health professional about the kind of carers’ support that is available.
  • see Support for carers pages.


It is important to look after yourself as much as possible to have the energy to do things you enjoy and to carry on caring for your loved one. Some things that you can do to continue to look after yourself are:

  • find time for yourself. It can be very helpful to find something enjoyable or relaxing to do, such as a hobby or an activity, if you can. Even going for a short walk or taking ten minutes to have a cup of tea can really help.
  • ask for help. Don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. If you have friends or relatives who live nearby, try to talk to them about how you’re feeling and be honest if you need support. You can also get a carer’s assessment from the council. This can help you to identify the kind of support you need in your caring role.
  • talk to other carers. Sometimes it can be really helpful to talk to other people who are also caring for others. A local carers’ group can offer advice and support as well as be a great way of socialising with other people.
  • speak to your GP if you’re finding caring difficult. The GP may be able to offer you advice and support and other additional health services that you might be entitled to as a carer, such as the annual flu jab.
  • find out how to arrange respite care. Respite care provides support for your cared-for person while giving you a break from caring.

Support schemes

As a carer, you can also access Haringey Council’s FREE Emergency Carers’ Alert Card scheme. This gives you a card with a unique PIN and contact details to the council’s Safe and Sound Service, a 24/7 Community Alarm Service. Its purpose is for the Safe and Sound service to mobilise the emergency plan they hold for that carer, e.g., who to contact to continue in the caring role, emergency support and so on, in the event of someone ringing the contact number and quoting the relevant PIN. To find out more call:

  • Carers First on 0300 303 1555, or
  • the Integrated Access Team on 020 8489 1400

If you are a carer who frequently visits someone in a hospital, you may benefit from a Carers’ Passport Scheme, run by both North Middlesex Hospital and Whittington Hospital. This scheme has a range of advantages such as free parking and flexible visiting hours whilst those they care for are in hospital.

What to look out for and what to do if things change

If your circumstances as a carer change, or if the circumstances of the person that you care for change, it is important that you are supported to decide what to do next. As well as Carers First (external link) you can also contact the Haringey Advice Partnership which provides free information, advice and guidance on a range of issues affecting people living in Haringey – including welfare benefits, debt, housing, and employment. To find out more:

It might also be worthwhile considering whether changes, housing adaptations or assistive technology can make things easier and safer for you and your loved ones.

Help and support networks

There are a number of resident-led carers groups that meet regularly in Haringey. These groups hold sessions such as Carers Coffee Mornings, giving carers an opportunity to socialise with each other and to form peer support networks.

Useful resources:

  • Carers Coffee Morning. Open to all carers and run by amazing volunteers.
  • Markfield Project
  • Alzheimer’s Society Haringey Branch. Support for carers and cared for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia
    • Telephone: 020 8937 7171 - 07889 604 236 
  • Young Onset Dementia Support Group (YoYo). A mutual support group for people diagnosed with young onset dementia and their Carers. We look out for each other at our meetings and activities.

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Why volunteer?

There are so many good reasons why it’s worth considering volunteering some of your time to help others. You might be surprised at just how many opportunities there are in Haringey to help out. Volunteering is a great way to stay active, make new friends or even do new things with the ones you’ve got. Here are some more reasons to consider volunteering locally:

  • it's good for your mental health – it keeps your brain active
  • it reduces social isolation – you can make new friends
  • it promotes physical activity – getting you out of the house and meeting people
  • it builds your confidence
  • it can help you learn a new skill
  • it helps you feel connected to your local community and neighbourhood
  • it is a chance to give something back
  • it lets you use your skills to help others

What kind of volunteering?

There are hundreds of different kinds of volunteer roles to try out in Haringey. From telephone befrienders to café assistants, conservation helpers to Meet and Greet helpers, there’s bound to be something of interest!

How can you decide? And how do you know which role to choose from?

A good place to start is to think about the things you already enjoy doing or have a keen interest in. If you like gardening, for example, then perhaps you can think about an outdoor volunteering role. If you’re a keen cook, why not think about volunteering in a café or kitchen setting?

If you’re having difficulty thinking about your interests, or just don’t think you have many, then another good place to start is thinking about what you enjoy doing, day-to-day. For example, if you like chatting with people, then a volunteer role where you’re going to be around people is going to be ideal – something like a befriender or volunteer receptionist, perhaps?

It might be a good idea to write down on a piece of paper all the things you enjoy or are good at, so when it comes to looking for a volunteering role, you can be sure you’ll search for a good match!

Where to find the right opportunity?

There are lots of places to look for volunteer opportunities locally. Here are some ideas:

  • ask your friends or trusted neighbours who may already be volunteering – they may know of some interesting roles available
  • look on the notice boards of:
    • community centres
    • shops and supermarkets
    • church/community halls
    • GP surgeries and health centres

There are two websites you can visit to look for volunteering opportunities:

Whichever way you apply for a volunteering opportunity, it’s important that you feel you have enough information about the role and what’s involved before committing. Every community group or charity will recruit their volunteers in different ways, but if you’re unsure of anything at any point, you should always ask for more information.

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Go back to the main Ageing Well webpage.

Page last updated:

March 28, 2023