A coalition of faith based charities called ‘Christians Together against Loneliness’ are urging churches to engage in the national campaign – Let’s Talk Loneliness, raising awareness of issues relating to loneliness and social isolation during Loneliness Awareness Week (17-21 June).
The government campaign aims to reduce the stigma of talking about loneliness. ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ launched by Loneliness Minister Mims Davies this week.
The loneliness capital of Europe
The campaign is in response to increasing evidence that loneliness and isolation figures are increasing in the UK:
- Over 9 million people of all ages say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel lonely.
- With over 50% of those aged 75 living alone, older people are at greater risk of isolation.
- 9 million older people consider television as their main form of company.
With the UK often quoted as the ‘loneliness capital of Europe Jeremy Sharpe, Chair of Christians Together explains:
‘The Bible teaches us that we are all to care for those on the margins of society and, by definition, many people struggling with loneliness are often unseen. This provides a challenge in identifying those most at risk, but also provides an opportunity for us all to be alert and aware of those for whom this could be a part of their day to day lives.
It is also often the case, particularly in rural areas, that church buildings are the only places to meet within the community. This should therefore provide a greater impetus to explore ways to reach and engage with people within our local neighbourhoods.’
Livability is one of ten organisations that form the coalition, working alongside: Care Home Friends, FaithAction, Faith in Later Life, Germinate Arthur Rank Centre, Linking Lives UK, Parish Nursing Ministries UK, Pilgrim’s Friend Society, The Gift of Years and the Salvation Army. The coalition were consulted on plans for the national campaign.
Corin Pilling, Deputy Director of Public Engagement at Livability said:
“We are proud to join the Christians Against Loneliness Coalition. A huge part of tackling loneliness is preventing it. By ensuring that everyone can continue to be part of the community, churches can be part of the solution. Those living with dementia run a particular risk of becoming hidden in our communities.”
Our Dementia Inclusive Church programme aims to help churches become places where those living with dementia continue can continue to take part. We offer training to churches to support this, and the next one runs in September. The Dementia Inclusive Church guide – Travelling Together is a great starting point for any church and available as a free download.
As well as providing training and support to help churches build a community where everybody takes part, our network of services across the UK are working to ensure that disabled people have the support they need to get out into their community, make friends and live a life that adds up for them.
Step by step to a livable life: Roberta’s story
Learning, making connections, giving to others and being active are four of the NHS’ ‘five steps to mental wellbeing’ – and Roberta is smashing it, with skills she has gained through Livability’s support.
When Roberta first arrived at Livability Netteswell Rectory, home to nine disabled adults, her mobility was poor, with occasional need for a wheelchair. Other health issues included foot problems. She worked with staff to improve her mobility, was fitted with custom-made shoes and left her wheelchair behind.
Being more mobile made it easier for Roberta to get out, something she loves to do. ‘I like meeting different people,’ she says, and she made lots of connections through attending clubs and getting a part-time job. She started using public transport, which she now uses independently for local trips and visits to places she loves.
People who live at Netteswell all get involved in looking after their home, and Roberta gained more skills around the house, doing her own laundry and helping with cleaning. When she came across Elbow Grease, a local cooperative that provides volunteers in Harlow, she wanted to join in ‘because I like doing something worthwhile’.
She became part of Elbow Grease’s cleaning team that takes care of the local MP’s office, which she enjoys. Summer holidays with housemate Sara, and keyworker Gail, have become a highlight for Roberta. And she’s adding sewing to her skills, recently using a sewing machine to complete a cushion for her room.
‘I’ve learned quite a bit and become more independent,’ says Roberta. ‘I like living here because it’s friendly.’ This is what Netteswell manager Martin Oliver and his staff are working for, he says: ‘Over the years, Roberta has really lived out what we aim for at Livability. We talk about all the elements that add up to a livable life, and Roberta has worked hard, supported by us, to really make it all add up in her life. And I don’t think she’s stopping any time soon!’
How can you get involved?
- Link existing groups, clubs or activities to the national campaign by sharing news on the campaign via your networks.
- View the existing models of community projects addressing loneliness available to churches and Christian organisations: Care Home Friends, Linking Lives UK, Parish Nursing UK, Places of Welcome and Anna Chaplaincy for Older People through BRF’s The Gifts of Years.
- Visit letstalkloneliness.co.uk for ideas and resources and support organisations in your local area.
- Find out about all the resources available to churches
- Travelling Together – a dementia inclusive church guide
- Dementia Inclusive Church training and other upcoming training courses