Tackling loneliness at Christmas with Hampshire Libraries

In the run up to Christmas, residents are being reminded about the many activities on offer through Hampshire County Council’s Libraries Service, where people can meet others, develop new skills and improve their wellbeing

Dec 5 2023

Councillor Steve Forster, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said: "While many of us are looking forward to the festive season, for some people Christmas can be an especially lonely time. Hampshire’s libraries are vibrant community hubs that provide a safe and inviting environment for people to connect, unwind, and learn - making them an ideal destination for those seeking to alleviate loneliness. There is something for everyone, with events and activities to suit all ages - many of which are offered free of charge. Whether it's educational classes, courses, book clubs, singing sessions, or Storytime for babies and toddlers, there are many options to explore.”

Some of the services from Hampshire libraries include:

  • The Chat About scheme, which offers welcoming spaces where people can meet and talk. Staff and volunteers are available to welcome people into a group or signpost to support.
  • Book Clubs and Digital Readers - keen readers can join groups that meet in person and online. 
  • Classes, courses and free activities, including wellbeing classes, baby rhyme time, story time, baby play, construction club, yoga, computer skills, knit and natter, scrabble club, craft clubs and more. 
  • The Home Library Service for those who can’t get to the library due to ill-health, disability or caring responsibilities - books are delivered to homes on a regular basis. 
  • Community Connections - libraries are hosting events where new arrivals to our county and sanctuary seekers can meet socially, learn about library services and get guidance on other support.
  • Some libraries have Read Aloud sessions where library staff read excerpts from books and short stories.    
  • Volunteering opportunities. 
  • Free access to public WiFi, public computers, printing and photocopying and help to get online. Access to Find My Past and Ancestry is also available without charge at library branches.

A series of events have also been organised to support those who are struggling with the cost of living and keeping warm, funded by the Household Support Fund. The following events are in December, with more to come in the New Year:

  • Warm and Welcome lunchtime drop-in at Hayling Island Library, every Friday from midday: The library offers a warm and safe community space, free mug of soup, bread roll and a hot drink.
  • Warm & Welcome event at Hythe Library, on Thursday 7 December, 9:30am to 12:30pm: For anyone struggling with energy bills and the cost of living. Drop-in to speak to local organisations and partners who offer help and advice. It’s free and no appointment is needed. Refreshments will also be available.

Research shows that there are five key elements to maintaining mental wellbeing, with social connection being one of them. The Five Ways to Wellbeing are widely recognised as effective safeguards against mental health issues, supporting people to age healthily and live independently for longer. 

For more information about the range of activities on offer, visit the Hampshire Libraries website.

Anyone who is experiencing loneliness or concerned for someone who might be, can find a wealth of information on the ‘Connect to Support Hampshire’ website – from lists of social groups and local leisure activities to lunch clubs and befriending services. Connect to Support Hampshire is mainly targeted at older people to help them stay independent for longer.