Sometimes when we don’t know what to say, a hug says enough.

By Cat Middleton – Foodbank Project Worker

Today feels like a BIG day. It’s the day where we are officially allowed to HUG friends and family after a year of social distancing (be sensible!). I love a good hug! It lifts me up and makes me feel ok, so today, whatever situation you find yourself in, if you are ready, hug someone you love.

I read some interesting facts about hugging….

  • It builds trust and a sense of safety.
  • Because hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, it helps in healing some negative feelings such as loneliness, isolation and anger.
  • Hugs strengthen the immune system.
  • Hugging boosts self-esteem.

Over this past year, I have had many conversations with people who have found themselves in crisis and needing a food parcel. Many of these conversations have happened over the phone and I’ve been able to talk to those people about their situation. During these conversations, I could feel the fear, anxiety and worry in their voices, and then the relief when I told them the food parcel is sorted and ready for them to collect. I’ve had a few people cry with relief. I’ve had people talk openly about their fears. Most conversations have been longer due to isolation, with people just wanting a few extra minutes to talk things through. Many times my heart has ached and I have wanted to hug them and let them know Foodbank is here to help.

Lockdown removed our ‘normal’ and our lives were on pause. This meant for many, losing support networks. Add in furlough, a lack of free school meals, home schooling, family and friends needing to keep their distance and very quickly, situations that would have been avoided in ‘normal’ circumstances have spiralled, leaving people in a very difficult place – feeling lonely, isolated and with nowhere to turn. The signs that we’d spot in normal life were gone because we couldn’t interact, ask ‘how are you?’ or just check in. The moments for people to be open and honest and say ‘I need help!’ were taken away and people were left to fend for themselves. These are people that are in and around our lives.

As we come out of over a year of isolation and fear, I believe we need to be looking at our community and seeing where we can help and how we can get involved. Checking on our neighbours to see if they need anything or if they just fancy a cup of tea and chat in the garden. Checking on that friend we haven’t heard from in a while and asking ‘are you ok?’.  When we pause and open ourselves up to the people around us, we give opportunities for others to pause and possibly help others to breathe again, face fears or worries, it gives space for honesty and for love to pour into those gaps. It also gives those who are finding themselves in difficult situations, who are struggling, an opportunity to say ‘I need help’ or ‘I’m not ok’. If that is you today, please know there is always someone available to help and listen, you are not alone. Find more info here.

Night Life Cafes are open everyday and ready to support. Please get in touch here .

When I read the positive effects of hugging, the part about ‘it helps in healing some negative feelings such as loneliness, isolation and anger’, it made me realise how many of us need a hug after this past year, some more than others.

To you, reading this, whatever situation you find yourself in today, I send you a hug.

If you’d like to get involved or donate to the work of Acts, please check out our How You Can Help 

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