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Bridging the gap this Loneliness Week 2024

Loneliness Awareness Week serves as a reminder that loneliness is a pressing issue impacting millions. It's vital to focus on those with mental health issues or mild learning disabilities who often lack sufficient support. This can lead to profound loneliness for those who fall through the support gaps, loneliness is not just a fleeting feeling but a constant issue. The lack of appropriate support systems means they struggle alone, facing barriers that can be too high to overcome without help. Ategi's Support Circles are helping to change this by fostering connections and providing crucial support. 

The hidden struggles

People with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, and those with mild learning disabilities such as ADHD or dyslexia, often fall through the support gaps. They might not qualify for full-time help but still face significant daily challenges, leading to isolation and loneliness. 

The loneliness problem

Loneliness Awareness Week highlights that loneliness affects many deeply. For those without adequate support, it can be a constant, overwhelming feeling. They often struggle alone, making their situation even harder to manage. 

Real-life challenges

  1. Employment: Many struggle to find and keep jobs due to a lack of workplace accommodations, leading to frequent job changes or long periods without work, increasing isolation. 
  1. Social Isolation: Difficulties in social interactions can lead to withdrawal, making it hard to form and maintain friendships, worsening loneliness. 
  1. Mental Health: Without support, mental health can decline, creating a cycle of isolation. 
  1. Daily Living: Managing money, keeping a home, or using public transportation can become overwhelming, pushing them further into isolation. 

The importance of making connections

Loneliness Awareness Week emphasises the importance of building meaningful connections to combat loneliness. A supportive network can provide much-needed companionship and purpose. 

Ategi's Support Circles: A place to find connection and flourish

Ategi's Support Circles project exemplifies bridging these gaps. By bringing together individuals with similar challenges, these circles create a network of mutual support and understanding. Participants can share experiences, offer advice, and build friendships, reducing loneliness and fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. 

What is Support Circles? 

Support Circles is a fantastic initiative from Ategi funded by the WCVA Volunteering Grant and the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation. It's designed to support people who don't qualify for full-time support but still need some help. This project bridges that gap, providing opportunities and building a sense of community and confidence among its members. 

Building Confidence and Friendships 

Support Circles is all about empowering people who have support needs to take on new challenges, of their choosing, whilst building confidence and friendships along the way.  

  • Day Trips and Outings: The group goes on fun trips like bowling and visits to places like Tenby. These outings are more than just fun—they are confidence-building experiences that help participants step out of their comfort zones. 
  • Regular Meetups: Once a month, everyone gets together to plan the month of weekly meet ups. The group discusses skills or challenges they’d like to take on, then they work together to support each other in these tasks. That could be trying out new types of transport, to attending an event or learning a new skill like First Aid.  
  • Creative Activities: From sharing artwork to fun ice-breaker activities with picture cards, these sessions help everyone express themselves and connect. .  

Making a Difference 

Support Circles has made a big impact, helping people grow and stay committed. For example: 

  • Lee's comeback: Lee used to work for Ategi but faced some tough times. Now, with Support Circles, he's rebuilding his confidence and has even starting to take on a facilitator role in the group. His journey is a testament to the power of community support. 
  • Stephen's dedication: Stephen, who helped set up the original building blocks for the project, has been a cornerstone in getting Support Circles off the ground. Previously quite isolated, many underestimated Stephen, through the group he has opened up about his experiences living in Africa. Support Circles has helped highlight his strengths. 

Community and Volunteer Support 

Volunteers are the heart of Support Circles. The volunteers in Support Circles are individuals who are often not given opportunities, are overlooked and underestimated. Support Circles gives them the chance to learn, grow and live their lives, their way.  Taking on challenges together and growing in confidence and building relationships at the same time. The success of this project is proof in the dedication and enthusiasm from the volunteers. The growth in confidence and the strong bonds formed in the group are proof of their hard work. Each of the volunteers is committed to the project, one volunteer suffered an injury and cancelled all their other commitments, but made sure they attended Support Circles.  

Ategi's Support Circles isn't just a support group—it's a community where people can find opportunities, rebuild their confidence, and make lasting friendships. Through various activities and the amazing support of volunteers, Support Circles is changing lives for the better. 

Celebrating Loneliness Awareness Week

This Loneliness Awareness Week, let's recognise the crucial role of initiatives like Ategi's Support Circles in combating loneliness. By fostering connections and providing support, we can help those who fall through the gaps find reasons to get up in the morning. 

Everyone deserves to feel part of a community. Let's use this week to advocate for those needing support, ensuring no one has to face their struggles alone. Together, we can bridge the gaps and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. 

Meet Lee, one of our Support Circles volunteers. In the past he's suffered from mental ill health, Support Circles has helped him build back his confidence. Here he is next to a drawing that he donated to Ategi. 

This is a sincere thank you for giving me the skills I've learnt.


Each Support Circle names their own group, meet "The Dreamers" on a day trip to St Fagans.

Our Support Circles volunteers use the sessions to take on challenges, learn new skills and forge connections. Here are some of our volunteers after finishing their First Aid training.

Support Circles 2024 Happy Wanderers

Here's Ategi's other Support Circle, "The Happy Wanderers" as well as the project leader, Matthew. This is their first day trip in Caerphilly.

(Support Circles) gives me a reason to get up in the morning.
- Mark

Could you benefit from becoming a volunteer in one of our Support Circles? If you live in Cardiff and have a support need, then contact us to find out more.

Contact us here

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About the author

Ategi comms

This post was written by the Ategi comms team.