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Loneliness and Mental Health

Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely. Some people may have misconceptions of what it means to suffer with your mental health, and this can make us apprehensive about opening up to people about how we feel in fear of feeling judged or misunderstood.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, and this year’s theme is anxiety. A person that suffers from social anxiety can also be at risk of loneliness as they may find it harder to engage in activities that revolve around interacting with or meeting new people.

Everybody experiences feelings of anxiety at some point during their lifetime, from mild experiences before interviews or medical appointments to more severe episodes that are persistent and make it hard for us to interact socially. These severe cases can lead to avoidance of social situations, which can leave us feeling dissatisfied with our social relationships and feel a lack of support networks among neighbours, colleagues, friends or family.

Feelings of anxiety, especially during periods of change, are completely normal, but stigma has discouraged many from openly talking about their emotions, despite the fact that in the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time.

Here at House of Books & Friends we are striving to help combat loneliness in our local community. If you’re looking to meet new people in a safe space, you can also check out our social mixers with literary party games and excellent cakes, or our monthly book club to meet like minded people. As always, pop in to the shop to chat to our booksellers, have a coffee in a relaxing environment and browse our shelves. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, we have created a booklist which can be found here, which includes a wide variety of knowledge on mental health issues from different perspectives.

 

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Volunteering in Manchester

Manchester Community Central 

Manchester Community Central supports the volunteering sector, and on their website there’s a whole range of volunteering opportunities for whatever you are interested in doing.

Greater Manchester Green City

This is the place to look if you’d like to put your time into helping the environment and alleviate the effects of climate change in Greater Manchester.

University of Manchester

University of Manchester have created a directory for students to search for volunteering opportunities, to enhance their uni experience.

MIND Manchester

If you’d like to help out in the mental health sector, you can offer your services to MIND.

Shelter

If you’d like to aid the fight against homelessness, Shelter have a variety of opportunities.

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What’s on in the local community

It’s spring time, and the world is waking up again! At House of Books & Friends we recognise the importance of feeling connected to the community around us in helping to prevent feelings of loneliness. Looking for literary events to get involved in this month? Here are some of our top recommendations!

At only £2 a ticket via eventbrite, grab yourself a space for Jorie Graham’s online book launch of To 2040 on May 10th where she will be hosted by landscape and place author Robert Macfarlane.

Will Dean will be visiting our very own beloved bookshop on May 15th to discuss his upcoming thriller The Last Passenger, joined by author Rob Parker, where you can be inspired by Dean’s writing processes and the journey behind the book for only £5 per ticket or £20 for a ticket and a hardback copy of the book. We are also hosting author Graham Caveney, who will be discussing his book On Agoraphobia, as well as our monthly book club at the end of May.

Oldham Library will be hosting their first ever Children’s Literature Festival on the 20th May providing fun for all the family, whilst Confingo Publishing will be conducting a free evening of spoken word poetry at the Royal Oak in Chorlton on the same day. 

You can catch another author event on the 31st May at Manchester Central Library with a conversation with TJ Klune, author of The House in the Cerulean Sea. Author and award-winning west end performer Carrie Hope Fletcher will also visit The Lowry for an evening of song and conversation on May 28th. 

The Big Help Out are marking the bank holiday weekend for the King’s Coronation by giving people the chance to help out in their local community. See what you can do to help by checking out their page and website!

There’s lots to do and see in Manchester this month so shake off your winter coats and step out into the sunshine, and don’t forget to grab a coffee from us on your way!

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Hosting Your Own Book Club: Guidelines

With the first meeting of our very own book club fast approaching, we’re sharing some guidelines on hosting your own book club for those not able to make it and fancy having a go at their own reading group. Quite a lot of thought goes into preparing for a book club meeting, especially if you’re leading the session. We hope that these guidelines will help you cultivate a safe, meaningful and fulfilling reading group.

First and foremost, there are lots of decisions to be made. How many people would you like in your book club? How often would you like to meet? Will you read a specific genre, or take suggestions from the group? These are all important questions that need to be answered.

Number of members

  • The ideal group size for a book club is usually between eight and ten people. This is large enough to allow a mixture of opinions and perspective, while being small enough that everyone can have a voice.

Frequency of meetings

  • Most book groups meet monthly. This gives everyone enough time to read the book around busy schedules, and form some interesting points of discussion too. Our book club will be meeting once a month too!

Where you’re going to meet

  • The majority of reading groups meet in libraries, cafes, pubs or bookshops like ours! It’s nice to have a nice surrounding environment, especially one that’s relevant. Above all, it’s important to meet in a public place, for the safety of all group members.

What books you will be reading

  • It’s a good idea to decide on a genre, so that everyone knows what to expect. Once you’ve chosen a genre, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to choose a book each month. Perhaps you’d like to take turns to suggest a book, have a lucky dip, or vote on a selection of titles.

It’s also good practice to hold a pre-book club meeting to discuss all of these details and how the book club will be ran going forward. We hope this will guide you in creating a warm and welcoming book club – some other great resources include Penguin, The Reading Agency and Oprah Daily.

Happy reading!

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Resources for Loneliness and Connection

We’ve collected some resources that may help you if you or someone you know is feeling lonely, for whatever reason. There is no shame to loneliness and it can affect anyone. We hope these resources may be of some help.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross has a page about loneliness, its causes, and how to cope.

NHS: Every Mind Matters

The mental health arm of the NHS also has a page offering advice, support and a range of links to specific services that may affect a person’s loneliness.

MIND 

The mental health charity MIND offers tips on how to manage loneliness, with talking therapies available online and in person.

Hub of Hope

Hub of Hope is the UK’s leading mental health database, where a person can search for support in their area from different services, such as the NHS, and local, national, private or charity support – all in one place.

Cruse Bereavement

Cruse offers support specifically in the case of bereavement.

Simon on the Street

Simon on the Street talks about the correlation between homelessness and loneliness in this article.

Shelter

Shelter offers support for those experiencing homelessness.

Parental Loneliness

This link offers support and advice for parents that are struggling with loneliness.

Loneliness in the LGBT+ Community

LGBT Hero talks loneliness in the LGBT+ community and how those affected can seek advice and support.

Loneliness in Young People

Young Minds provides support and advice for young people experiencing loneliness.

BEAT

Beat is a charity that offers advice for those affected by eating disorders.

Coping strategies for dealing with loneliness

Fingerprint for Success offers 11 key coping strategies that may help alleviate loneliness.

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Loneliness and Volunteering at Christmas

Loneliness during the Christmas period is an issue that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, with many people catching the virus and having to isolate on Christmas Day in the last couple of years.

This year, the cost of living crisis may mean that people spend less time with their loved ones, with a third of adults saying they will cut back on social gatherings and a further 21% stating that they will reduce the amount of travelling they do to visit family and friends who live far away, according to a recent YouGov poll.

Loneliness amongst the elderly at Christmas is already a big concern – nearly a million over-65s were expected to be lonely last Christmas – and this will only deepen the worry.

Some people may also be socially isolated and lonely during the rest of the year, and the pressure to spend time with friends and family over the festive period only makes feelings of isolation and loneliness worse. At House of Books and Friends we hope to be a welcoming and friendly place for those feeling socially isolated this Christmas, and every book sold counts in making a tangible difference in our community.

If you or anyone you know are looking for a way to spend your time on Christmas Day while we are closed, we have collected some links that may be able to help.

Community Christmas

Community Christmas provides a free online directory of local festive events and activities taking place across the UK, between 17 December 2022 and 1 January 2023, which are open to local older people who would otherwise be spending Christmas alone.

The Christmas Dinner Project

Established by Lemn Sissay ten years ago, this project connects local people able to provide and enjoy a Christmas dinner with care leavers ages 18-25 years old. Based in Manchester originally, there are now options all over the country for those who’d like to get involved.

FoodCycle Salford Cornerstone Community Meal

A vegetarian Christmas dinner, free of charge, taking place on the 20th December. FoodCycle also have branches in Levenshulme and Salford Angel Centre, where there is a community meal every week. Please check with them directly for Christmas opening times.

Manchester Community Central Volunteering Opportunities

If you have some spare time to help with your local community this Christmas, here is a variety of volunteering opportunities around Manchester that you can get involved in.

Salford Loaves And Fishes

Salford Loaves and Fishes are open on Christmas Day from 12pm until 2:30pm for anyone who is on their own and would like some company. They also give away a free gift. To sign up, visitors should go to their centre (1 Paddington close, Salford, M6 5PL) Monday-Friday 9am-2pm.

Volunteers can sign up to help from 11am-3pm on Christmas Day for as long as they would like – to do this, email info@salfordloavesandfishes.org.uk.

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We are opening!

 

We have some wonderful news: we have an official opening date of Monday, 12th December! We are so excited to confirm that our bookshop will be open just in time for Christmas, and we will be there for all of your gifting needs in the run up to the big day.

A little bit about us: we are an independent bookstore opening in Manchester, which sells new books for adult and children. However, we are a little different than your average bookshop.

We are a not-for-profit, Community Interest Company with the aim of combatting social isolation and loneliness. We believe that bookshops can play a significant role in fostering a sense of community and helping those isolated or feeling lonely.  Every penny you spend in our store, or on bookshop.org, goes towards our mission.

We would like you to leave our bookshop feeling better connected to the community. In time, we will have a book club, chatty cafe days, and many other initiatives that will alleviate social isolation and loneliness in a practical way. Every book sold makes a difference.

We are thrilled to welcome you on our opening day, but please bear in mind that this will be the first day for our new booksellers and we would appreciate it if you could be patient and kind with us while we find our feet.

See you in a couple of weeks!