A neighbourly nudge to curb loneliness – Joy’s story

When Joy Warren’s husband of 50 years passed away, her confidence took a knock. Meeting new people and joining in again socially was a daunting prospect. Fortunately, just doors away were friendly neighbours Janet and Michael Porter who knocked on her door and invited her to join them at a local friendship group event. 

And it all started from there, explained Joy, 75, from Worthing: “I’ve never been the type to sit still, so despite the fact I was still grieving for Graham, I knew I had to get out and socialise again, but it was difficult to know where to start. That knock on the door was the encouragement I needed.” 

From that first neighbourly nudge, Janet and Michael have been there for Joy, inviting her along to take part in regular Oddfellows social events.  

She continued: “They made sure I was never alone for too long, and if I didn’t fancy coming with them, there was never any pressure, just a gentle reminder that they were always there. I joined them at all sorts of group meetings and events, from visiting the local dogs’ home to having a catch up at the monthly coffee morning. I signed up to the Oddfellows as a result of the wonderful new friends I made there.”

Joy also found that after losing her husband, she was alone in making decisions about her home and finances, often struggling with what needed to be done.

She added: “I’m of a generation where Graham used to take care of all that, so it’s been tough for me to figure out what the right thing to do is sometimes. The Oddfellows was a huge help with this as they have a Citizen’s Advice Line for members, which has got me through some complicated times.”

Michael, who is also Secretary for the Oddfellows’ Brighton and Sussex District Branch said: “We understood that Joy needed some time and space after losing Graham, but we made sure we were always there for her when she felt ready to join in. The time it takes to feel ready to step out and meet people again is a very personal thing. It can be a matter of weeks for some, or possibly years for others. 

“There are so many wonderful things to get involved with locally, both through the Oddfellows and also the wider community, which can be a huge help when you’re trying to figure out where to start. We’ve see many supportive friendships form within our group, especially between other widows and widowers because they just know what each other is going through.” 

With a smile, Joy also added: “Since joining, I’ve become more involved in the organisational side of the Oddfellows, and I am a trustee for my Branch, which is something that I really enjoy. My advice to anybody in this situation is to get out there, socialise as soon as you feel ready, and don’t worry about going to events alone. People at the Oddfellows are very friendly, and you can always just ring ahead to make sure there is somebody to meet you who understands.”

From coffee mornings and afternoon teas, to lunch clubs and guest talks, the Oddfellows’ local Branches hold regular events and activities throughout the year. You can find out what events are running near to you by using our Event Finder

To receive a free information pack about joining the Oddfellows and to receive a copy of your nearest Branch’s forthcoming events diary, call 0800 028 1810, or email enquiries@oddfellows.co.uk

If you’ve recently lost a partner, why not take a look at our First Steps page, which contains some useful guides and information on how to make meeting new people feel a little less daunting.

Oddfellows Care and Welfare Officer Andrea Libman has some advice on making those first steps to joining in again easier: 

Keep it manageable: If you find it overwhelming to go out in groups, ask close friends if you can see them one or two at a time. They will understand and be happy to see you. 

Short and sweet: Sometimes long events might take a lot out of you, so why not let friends know you’d like to see them, but may leave early? 

What’s on: If you don’t have any friends or family around you, there are befriending organisations such as us (the Oddfellows), U3A and local groups that you can join. A local club with shared interests, such as knitting, woodwork, bridge or walking will provide a common talking point, and a bit of a distraction. 

Get local support: Why not join a local bereavement support group? You may feel that your friends and family don’t want to talk about your loss, so talking to people who have been through the same experiences can often be easier. 

Plan ahead: When you start going to a new group, it can be hard if you don’t know anyone there. Ring ahead – you’ll get an idea of what to expect and they may be able to ‘buddy you up’ with a friendly regular. 

Support at home: If you don’t feel like you can face going out right now, why not try ringing a befriending service such as The Silver Line? Or chatting to an online support group?

Information about the Oddfellows, as well as further useful advice on socialising again after losing a partner, can be found at https://www.oddfellows.co.uk/firststeps/ 

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DISCLAIMER: References to third-party organisations do not constitute an endorsement by the Oddfellows and use of the advertised products and services is entirely at your risk.