We all need support networks but they don’t come ready made so how do we go about creating one?

If you have a chronic illness as I have then the receptionist at your medical practice and your doctor are the first in line. I know that quality varies from practice to practice but fingers crossed that you strike lucky. Should you need medication then a pharmacist follows closely behind.

I live in social housing and the housing officer who looks after the area is a key figure for those of us who are vulnerable. I have mostly good neighbours and some have become friends. I get support from those who feel animosity towards me because they remind me of who I don’t want to be.

The high street close to where I live is a combination of independent traders and chain stores. 

I know some of the independent traders well: the guy from the paper shop who always has a chat, Ross the greengrocer, Hayley from the pet shop/emporium place and Nelbo who has a corner of her shop for his business. All of them are ready to chat but also respect those days when putting my head out of the door is painful.

There are the women from Greggs who are warm and friendly, any of the assistants in Peacocks will chat even if you’re just looking around and the staff in Iceland and Asda get as much out of chatting to the customers as the customers do to them. Chain stores often have a bad press but the people working in them can be wonderful.

Most of the people in my support network have no idea that they’re part of it. I’m just a woman who goes in their shop and has a chat while I’m buying stuff. They don’t know they keep me going or that sometimes the energy spent talking to them ends with me in tears when I get home. I am unfortunate in that I have a debilitating illness but fortunate that I am surrounded by people who help either by being there or not being there.

It isn’t easy if you can’t get out as often as you would like to or you are in a community that enhances your feeling of isolation but I hope that by counting off the people in your life as I have just done then you too will realise that you have a support network or at least the makings of one.