Many reading this will have noticed that over Christmas and New Year I was encouraging followers on Twitter to give a push to the new @notalone365 account and the use of the #notalone365 hashtag.
I did so because this new initiative has the very real potential to help people who struggle with loneliness. But more than that; within 24 hours of launch, it was already achieving what it set out to do. It is working already!
OnlyDads brings me into contact with many dads who for one reason or another struggle. Some live with their children on a full-time basis and find that they stop going out and stop socialising and despite having children around, find themselves isolated from mainstream life and can then end up lonely as a result. Other dads are on the opposite end of that scale. Many only get to see their children on the odd occasion and are continually frustrated in their attempts to improve contact with those they love most. The effects on such men can be devastating. It is not unknown for me to hear grown men cry over the ‘phone. If OnlyDads has one purpose and one alone, it does offer an avenue for men to just tell it like it is. Emotions and all.
The “isolated” word crops up day after day in such encounters. This is why the minute I saw the #notalone365 my eyes lit up.
I have yet to meet a single parent (man or woman) who, from time to time, has not found themselves wondering how on earth they are going to get through the next 24 hours. loneliness and that sense of isolation can be overwhelming. Picking up a ‘phone and speaking to a friend at such times can be a step too far; so too popping around to a neighbour and pouring your heart out. Sometimes there is just no outlet…
…This is where I see something magical about #notalone365. I want it to grow because it enables us direct men (and women) who are struggling with loneliness, and in many cases, depression and awful anxiety conditions to an on-line “place” where they can find some support.
Of course, #notalone365 will never be a replacement for real social interaction and/or proper medical help. It’s not meant to be. But when I’m not going on about divorce and separation and associated issues, I know that sometimes on my Twitter account “Bob” comes out. That Bob can feel lonely and low with the best of them, and clicking onto twitter to see a friend or two (you know who you are) on my timeline can lift my spirits in ways I can’t quite explain. I guess many reading this will relate.
There are many things @notalone365 can achieve in its aim to support people feeling isolated and lonely. For me, I hope more than anything else, that it will go some way to taking the stigma away from feeling lonely. It’s part of the human condition and nothing to be ashamed of.
#notalone365 comes from a good and genuine place. With a little support from those reading this, the word will spread. Hashtags cost nothing to follow – for me, this is one of the very best things to come from Twitter. If you can do your bit to help, who knows what good that may do!? Thank you for reading. Bob