What is the thing you miss most at the moment? Before lockdown, there were all sorts of things we took for granted: popping into a shop on a whim; sitting in a café and enjoying a cup of coffee; seeing a friend and giving them a hug.
It’s a touchy subject Touch is the first of the five senses to develop: embryos start to be aware of touch at around the 8th week of pregnancy and it’s the key sense in survival – young animals and humans instinctively pull away from discomfort and move towards things that feel good. Touch also affects the mental and physical development in children: research shows that a lack of physical contact from birth will have a severely detrimental effect on a child’s development which carries on into adulthood.
Touch is also a powerful communication tool: it’s the easiest way to say to someone that we care about them. As author Mimi Novic says, “Laughter with those that understand us is music for the soul. A hug at the right moment and a kind shoulder to lean on, is the sprinkle of magic that keeps us walking towards hope.” Receiving and giving hugs helps to relieve stress, reduces blood pressure and releases the happiness hormones oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin: in short, hugs are good for you.
In fact, hugs are one of the key tools our volunteers use when helping a family facing crisis. We also use tea.
In Britain, offering a cup of tea during times of stress or distress is second nature. Of course, with the current COVID-19 lockdown, sharing hugs and cups of tea (or coffee) are an increasingly rare commodity. Which is why Home-Start have created our “hug in a mug” campaign. You might not be able to hug friends during these stressful times, but you can donate the cost of a cuppa to help us provide virtual hugs to families in crisis. And, while we’re also missing real hugs right now, we are providing the next best thing: a cup of tea, and hope.
If you’d like to support our Hug in a Mug campaign you can text HOMESTARTHUG to 70085 to donate £3 (or HOMESTARTHUGNOINFO if you’d rather not be on our mailing list).