Social distancing guidelines and national restrictions are changing the ways we keep in touch. If you're worried about someone who may be struggling, we've got some tips that might come in handy.
⚠️ We're updating the information on this page in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The advice on this page may change significantly as the situation continues to develop.
Page last updated: Friday 19 March 2021
We know how important human connections are. And we know how hard the challenges and experiences of the past year have been for many people. During this time, we want to help you feel confident supporting others who may be struggling. Now, more than ever, we need to stay connected with others.
It might feel difficult to mention to someone that you’re worried about them if you haven’t seen them in person or talked for a while. That’s OK. If you think somebody might need help, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation.
Reaching out to someone can make a big difference if they’re going through a tough time. It can be a video call, a phone call, a text, a DM or a socially distanced walk in your local park. You could use this time to write a letter or an email, too. Starting a conversation and showing you care can be the first step to helping someone feel less isolated.
There’s no right or wrong way to get started. Trust your instincts and remember that you chat with people in lots of different ways every day.
It's also OK if you don’t get a response straight away. If they don't answer, they may still have read your message or seen your call. That notification buzz can be enough to let them know you care and may encourage them to reach out for support.
If you're worried about someone during the coronavirus pandemic, we've got some tips to help you reach out
How to get the conversation started
If you're worried about someone, you might feel that reaching out could make things worse. Even if someone isn’t ready to talk, it is really important to let them know that you care for and support them.
If you're worried about someone, have a look at our page What to do if you think someone is struggling. There you’ll find our listening tips to help you give the best support you can.
Even if you are very close to the person, it may take time and several attempts until someone feels comfortable talking openly about how they’re feeling.
Try not to talk about yourself during the conversation. This could mean not offering advice or relating what they’re going through to your own experiences. Instead, try to listen without judgement and use open questions like ‘How are you feeling today?’ or statements like 'Tell me more'.
Tools you could use
Technology has made it much easier for us to keep in touch now that we can’t always talk face to face. There are loads of free and easy-to-use tools to help you reach out to someone and show them that you care. That virtual dinner, chat or drink could make all the difference.
- If you're speaking on the phone, use video if you can. It can make it easier to read people's body language and can help build trust.
- Try and find somewhere quiet, free of background noise and distractions that might interrupt your conversation.
- You can text or leave a voice memo too. It's best to use whichever method of contact you usually speak to them on so they feel comfortable.
Social distancing and meeting in person
As restrictions change and we begin easing out of lockdown, some of your friends, family or colleagues may need more time than others to adjust or feel comfortable with the new guidance. Some people may feel anxious about meeting in person, even with social distancing in place. For people who are shielding or in a vulnerable group, they may need to follow different guidelines.
If you are planning to meet with someone outside of your household or support bubble, check what rules are in place ahead of time
- You can read the official guidance for exercising and meeting with other people in England here (UK)
- Guidance from Health Protection Scotland can be found here (Scotland)
- Public Health Wales has its guidance on seeing other people here (Wales)
- Public health guidance for social visits in the Republic of Ireland can be found here (ROI)
If you can meet in person, it can be helpful to talk about what you are both comfortable with beforehand. Having a clear plan can help people to feel more in control and at ease.