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West Norfolk's domestic violence and mental health charities say "reach out"

Domestic violence and mental health charities across West Norfolk have offered their support to anyone struggling after Monday's lockdown announcement.

After a surge of domestic violence cases nationwide during the 2020 lockdowns, the team behind Pandora Project, a West Norfolk charity for women and children affected by domestic abuse, were glad to see domestic violence mentioned in the prime minister's announcement.

Tracy, CEO of the Pandora Project, said: “The real positive for us was that the lockdown announcement actually mentioned domestic violence which is a real shift from the first lockdown. There is more of an awareness of the need for support for those experiencing domestic abuse.

King's Lynn Samaritans are appealing for more volunteers. A volunteer takes a call.. (43855094)
King's Lynn Samaritans are appealing for more volunteers. A volunteer takes a call.. (43855094)

“We’ve definitely seen a difference – normally the lead up to Christmas is quiet but this year was quite different and the referrals haven’t stopped.

"We’ve seen a huge decline in our clients’ mental health with more than usual mentioning suicide."

As the UK goes back into lockdown, concerns increase for women and children who might be vulnerable to violence or domestic abuse.

Tracy said: “Going back into lockdown again is difficult for those women who might not be ready to leave, or who might dealing with the emotions caused by their relationship.

“If you are questioning your relationship, your partner, or you’re feeling frightened or worried, check our website. There are lots of resources and information there which can help with any questions you might have. We also have a web chat and you can send us messages."

She stresses, “Please don’t let the pandemic put you off reaching out for help. We can still provide support and we can still help you flee if needed."

Reminding residents of the help that is available, King's Lynn Samaritans are available to offer round-the-clock support to those who need to speak to someone.

Rachel Goldsmith, director at King’s Lynn Samaritans, said: “January can be a very difficult time for many people, but especially with social restrictions and lockdown measures. The challenges that many people face have been felt more acutely this year with the pandemic.

"At Samaritans, we know how powerful listening can be. Listening helps us build relationships, be there for others and it can save lives.

"There couldn’t be a better time to reach out for a chat with someone you care about."

She added: “I’d also like to remind everyone that Samaritans provide emotional support 24/7, 365 days a year.

"Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org."

Norfolk and Waveney Mind will be moving their groups online during lockdown, but are still available for those in need during this time.

Sharon Pitt, social development manager at mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind, said: “The latest lockdown will be hard for a lot of people who have already had many months of restrictions on meeting their loved ones and doing the things they love. However, even when we all have to stay at home there are lots of ways we can look after our wellbeing."

The organisation has several support groups available which provide mental health support for both adults and children in the community.

Sharon said: “Staying connected with other people is very important and this can be through a Zoom video chat, phone call, or writing a letter or postcard to let someone know we’re thinking of them. Doing a hobby you enjoy can also reduce stress and give you a sense of purpose.

“It’s also really important to stay as active as you can, as this benefits your mental health just as much as your physical health.

"Try to get out for some fresh air and exercise once a day, and if you’re shielding at home you could try a YouTube workout, have a kitchen disco, or set up an obstacle course for the kids."

She added: “Above all, be kind to yourself. If you’re struggling with your mental health, you don’t have to do it alone.

"If you need urgent help you can call the 24-hour First Response helpline on 0808 196 3494 for immediate advice and support. You can talk to the Samaritans any time on 116 123."

Norfolk and Waveney Mind’s West Norfolk social groups will be moving online during lockdown.

For details and to find useful links and resources to help you to look after your wellbeing, visit www.norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk/Covid19

Experts also recommend setting goals, no matter how big or small, to provide a sense of control and focus while navigating your way through lockdown.

You could also try breathing exercises and mindfulness activities to help you focus on the current moment instead of worrying about the future.

Tips for improving your mental health during Lockdown:

Get Moving – Try a virtual exercise class or home workout if you can't get outside. Or head out for some socially distanced fresh air and exercise. A walk, jog, cycle or even gardening for as little as 10 minutes has been proven by the experts to be a great way to boost your mood and to help make you feel better both physically and mentally.

Stop over-thinking - Try to shift from worry to thinking about (and maybe writing down) some practical steps that you might be able to take to move forward. Many worries do not turn into real problems and doing something that distracts you from the worry can often be really helpful.

Set a goal – This can give you a sense of focus and control. Goals can be big or small; clear that cupboard or learn a new skill. Daily goals help with navigating those long days and creating a schedule; longer terms goals can be tougher but can boost you sense of self-esteem greatly.

Talk to people – The pandemic has made it harder to be with people in person but staying in touch via phone or social media can make a huge difference to your sense of well-being and can positively affect others. Try talking about your feelings with somebody else; it can often help both of you to have a real conversation.

Be in the ‘Now’ – Simple breathing exercises, mindfulness or just thinking about what you are actually doing in this very moment can free you from any regrets or worries. Being ‘in the moment’ has been proven by the experts to help with improving mental well-being.

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