How a special friendship formed online “rescued” a man in lockdown

A man from Melton Mowbray has been “rescued” from the loneliness of lockdown by a woman he befriended on social media and now lives in her home in Scotland.

Ben Canham, who’s on the autistic spectrum, had lived on his own since his parents died when he was a teenager.An attack by a gang of bullies shattered his confidence and, with the onset of lockdown, he felt cut off from the outside world.

Shelagh Low, who’s a retired social worker and also lives alone, became friends with Ben online and offered him the chance to live with her in Scotland. An offer Ben accepted.

Shelagh made the 700-mile round trip to collect her friend and they now live north of the border.

When the time’s right, Ben will make the trip back down south to Melton but, for now, he’s looking forward to his first Christmas with company for three years.


Feeling lonely? Support is out there:

  • Mind’s website has lots of information on mental health and tips for coping with things like isolation and loneliness and coping with the pandemic: www.mind.org.uk/coronavirus

  • Mind has a confidential Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open Monday to Friday from 9am-6pm). Calls are charged at local rates, or email info@mind.org.uk.

  • Side by Side is a safe, moderated online peer support community where people aged 18+ with mental health problems can share their story, connect with others and access Mind’s wider information and resources www.sidebyside.mind.org.uk

  • Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and need immediate help: www.giveusashout.org

  • Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 (free from any phone), email jo@samaritans.org or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (7pm–11pm every day).


Watch Peter Bearne’s report on the special friendship by watching the above video.