Livability have come together with four Christian charities to encourage churches to play a major role in the Jo Cox Commission on loneliness and its first monthly focus on older people.
Start a Conversation: lead the way on tackling isolation
Under the Commission’s slogan ‘Start a Conversation’, the charities want to mobilise Christians to help themselves and others around them – to become part of the solution – whether through talking to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for people they meet.
Already, churches in the UK are doing more to address loneliness and isolation than any other social issue: 87% of churches have informal or organised activities in place.
On behalf of the five charities, Jeremy Sharpe, National Coordinator of Linking Lives UK said:
‘This is a significant opportunity for churches to be salt and light in our communities. Collectively, churches are probably already the single most powerful movement of people reaching out to support isolated older people and we are calling on people to make this visible by signing up the Jo Cox Commission campaign to ‘start a conversation’.’
Corin Pilling, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Livability commented:
‘A recent study found more than 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say that feelings of loneliness are out of their control. Starting a conversation can in these circumstances be a real lifeline which is why we have launched our top ten tips for starting a conversation to support this campaign.’
Stephen Hammersley, Chief Executive of Pilgrims’ Friend Society commented:
‘We all know that loneliness in older people is a key determinant of social, spiritual mental and physical problems. Our experience is that isolation from God is a vital part of this problem – that is why we produce resources and conferences that help people come together to meet, share and learn of God’s love for them.’
Debbie Thrower, who leads “The Gift of Years” within The Bible Reading Fellowship said:
‘Together, we can dispel some of the fear surrounding getting older. We can aspire to lead lives that are more intense and rewarding. We can help all ages to appreciate the fruits of older age, and see long life as a crowning achievement. The goal is none other than a life lived deeply and well. That is why we started The Gift of Years.’
Andy Burns, Executive Director of Capital Mass, commented:
‘Loneliness is one of the key areas of poverty that parishes have identified, which is why we host learning communities for churches as they explore together what inclusion looks like for older people. It’s a pleasure working in a diocese that sees the effects of isolation and responds in creative and dynamic ways which build friendship and promote flourishing.’