A man from Leicestershire is looking forward to his first Christmas not alone in four years after sparking a friendship online with a lady from Perthshire in Scotland.
Befriending one another online during lockdown, retired social worker Shelagh Low became so worried for Ben's wellbeing that she made a 700-mile round trip to the Midlands to bring him back to live with her.
Earlier this year, Ben Canham was living alone in his flat in Melton Mowbray, barely daring to leave the front door.
The 23 year old has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism and lost both of his parents by the age of 18.
During lockdown, social media was a lifeline and it was through that he got to know Shelagh, a former social worker. She was so worried about how Ben was coping, she drove all the way to Melton and brought him back to live with her in Perthshire in Scotland.
They're now the best of friends and getting ready to spend Christmas together.
Shelagh would also have been on her own this Christmas. The people she normally visits are in a bubble with their families. For both of them, this year more than ever, friendship means everything.
Hear from the pair themselves in the report below:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (7pm–11pm every day).