Published Friday, 12 February 2021
Valentine’s Day (14 February) is all about expressing love and care. This year, we all need a bit of extra care and attention due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire are encouraging residents to reach out to those who are vulnerable this Valentine’s Day and beyond.
According to a YouGov survey last November, 1 in 4 adults said they had felt lonely during the previous two weeks, and almost half had felt anxious or worried. However, 3 in 5 respondents to the survey said that being kind to others or receiving kindness from others has a positive impact on their mental health.
This survey was taken during the second lockdown, and in response to rising COVID infections, hospital admissions and deaths, the country is now in a third national lockdown. We have all been told to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons, and the majority of our social interactions have been limited for nearly a whole year now.
The elderly and vulnerable may be especially affected. At the start of the pandemic they stayed home to shield from the virus, and the recent bad weather has confined them to their homes once more. Many will have lost friends and family to COVID but may have been unable to attend funerals due to the restrictions. Those in care homes will have not been allowed visitors for much of the pandemic. They also may not have the technology to stay connected in the same way that younger generations can.
According to an Age UK survey in August and a poll in September, 1 in 3 older people agreed their anxiety worsened, the proportion of over-70s experiencing depression doubled, and almost half of over-70s felt uncomfortable leaving their home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport said: “I want to encourage all residents to show love and kindness to others this Valentine’s Day. It is a great opportunity to take stock of what is going on around us and to recognise neighbours or family members that may have lost someone during the pandemic. Offering support can help them feel more socially connected at a time they may feel isolated or lonely.
“It is really important that during these challenging times we pay close attention to our own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those around us.”
Marie Nicholls, General Manager, Community Mental Health Services said: “This Valentine’s Day, it would be wonderful if we could all spread some neighbourly love by checking in on those who are elderly and vulnerable. There may be someone on your street or amongst your relatives or friends who could do with some help. You could check to see if they need any help with their shopping. You could give them a call, pass by their house for socially distanced doorstep chat or post a note through their letterbox with your details so that can get in touch should they need anything.
“These small and simple acts of kindness can go a long way and help people to feel connected during these very difficult and uncertain times. And they don’t need to be restricted to Valentine’s Day, you could make a note to check in on people regularly – it’s the thought that counts and it could make a huge difference to someone’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care & Health, Councillor Les Caborn, said: ‘Connecting with other people has never been more important for our wellbeing, so while we can’t physically be with our friends and neighbours, we all have to look for new ways to show the love this Valentine’s day.
“We can still pick up the pone, have a video chat or send a card to our loved ones, or get involved in the county council’s campaign ‘Show You Care’ by colouring and designing a heart to share with loved ones and the community. Displaying a heart in your window, or sharing it on social media, is a simple but effective way of showing that you care this Valentine’s Day. Find out more and get involved on our website"
There are also a wealth of local and national mental health support and helplines available:
For Coventry, text 07507 331 949
For Warwickshire, text 07507 331 525