Ian lives on the Isle of Wight and was diagnosed with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) when he was a baby.
When my mother died in 2017, I realised how much I had depended on her for care, support and social interaction.
She gave me a lot of support. I live alone in a bungalow and I’m here on my own much of the time. Because of the restrictions of the pandemic, I don’t really see many people.
Living on the Isle of Wight, I’m fortunate to live near my sisters who I can visit for dinner or go out with for walks. Before the pandemic, I could also keep myself busy through my voluntary work.
It would have been very difficult without the voluntary work; I would have lived a much lonelier life. The only way to get over my mum passing was through voluntary work.
Loneliness can affect health and wellbeing
I was fostered at 10 days old with little information about my birth mother. Soon after my I was fostered, my sister noticed a problem with my eye. After tests, I was diagnosed with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS); a condition that could have been prevented with a simple vaccine.
CRS usually occurs when a mother contracts Rubella during her first trimester in pregnancy. It can cause sensorineural deafness, eye abnormalities and congenital heart disease.
My experience of loneliness after the loss of my mother gave me a deeper understanding of what many people with disabilities face.
The impact of loneliness can be significant for many people, especially older, as well as some disabled people. Anxiousness and boredom can be bad for health and wellbeing.
Due to this, I’m an active campaigner for disability awareness to improve public attitudes. This includes things like more community activities, access to work and employment and financial support.
Changing perceptions of people with disabilities
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, my main source of social interaction, volunteering work, was gone overnight. Thankfully, my family were close by, but access to essential services was limited.
I was lucky enough to maintain my family links but getting in food and essentials was not easy during the first couple of weeks.
My experience of disability and isolation has made me an advocate for the people in my community and I’m working hard to change the public’s perceptions of people with disabilities. I previously supported in Sense’s 2017 loneliness campaign and, due to the current pandemic, feel that now is an important time to tackle this issue again.
The number of ways Sense supports people is really astounding. From Communicator Guides to help people access the community to children’s services, there is something for everyone in the Sense family.
While the majority of the public are isolated, I know that people with disabilities have been experiencing loneliness far before the pandemic.