UK Politics

People living alone can form a ‘support bubble’ to end lockdown loneliness

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People in England are now able to set up "support bubbles", a move the prime minister says is aimed at helping those who are lonely as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased.

The new rule means that adults living alone can form a network with one other household, so a grandparent could visit the house of their child and grandchildren. The change will allow some people to stay overnight at another house, without having to socially distance.

Northern Ireland is adopting a similar relaxation of the regulations for people living alone.

However, the changes do not apply to those who are vulnerable and shielding.

Amy Downes is mum to Harry and James, who are both under five. She has been making do with support from friends and family online, but is desperately missing human interaction.

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Her best friend Alex, who lives alone, is going to join her family in a bubble.

She told Sky News: "Now that she can actually come into the house and spend a bit of time with us, I am really looking forward to the weather not putting that off. It is going to be really nice. But for me it is going to be getting Harry back with his little buddy and those two having a bit of fun.

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"From my point of view, it will be really nice to have an extra pair of hands when my partner is in work, when he does have to go in as a teacher. It is really hard to look after two children. I find it difficult because this wasn't what I expected to do. I thought Harry was going to be in nursery."

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But not everyone is so enthusiastic about the idea.

Thea Jaffe, a single mother who has been working throughout lockdown, said she found it difficult to think about who to invite.

She said: "When it was first announced I felt excited because we can finally have some human contact, but when I thought about it more, I started to get confused. Should I ask my son's father, but then we only see him once a month, so maybe a friend… when you finally start to ask people to bubble with you, it is almost like you are asking them to marry you."

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