‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign
Christian organisations have encouraged churches to engage in the national ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ Campaign
A campaign to address the stigma of loneliness among people of all ages and backgrounds has been launched by the government.
The Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign begins during Loneliness Awareness Week (17-21 June). It aims to reduce the stigma of talking about loneliness, and will encourage more openness and discussion about the issue.
A coalition of faith based charities called ‘Christians Together Against Loneliness’ has been consulted about the campaign - and is encouraging churches to engage with it. There is a dedicated website with ideas and resources, and more information below.
The year-long campaign is being launched in response to increasing evidence of the serious nature of loneliness, such as:
More than 9 million people of all ages say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel lonely
With more than 50 per cent of those aged 75 living alone, older people are at greater risk of isolation.
3.9m older people consider television as their main form of company.
Why should churches and individual Christians get involved?
During recent years, social isolation and loneliness have become increasing concerns nationally, and the UK is often quoted as the ‘loneliness capital of Europe’.
Jeremy Sharpe, National Director of the charity Linking Lives UK, is Chair of Christians Together Against Loneliness. He said, ‘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.’
How can churches and individual Christians get involved?
There are many ways that churches and individual Christians can engage with this campaign. The dedicated website will provide ideas and resources as well as details of organisations already providing support and services across the UK. There will be several suggestions providing ways in which individuals can make a difference in their local area.
Churches and Christian organisations can get involved by linking any existing groups, clubs or activities into the national campaign on a local level by advertising on social media and elsewhere. There are also various excellent existing models of community projects which address loneliness, available to churches and Christian organisations. These include Care Home Friends (www.carehomefriends.org.uk), Linking Lives UK (www.linkinglives.uk), Parish Nursing UK (www.parishnursing.org.uk), Places of Welcome (CUF) and Anna Chaplaincy for Older People through BRF’s The Gift of Years (www.thegiftofyears.org.uk).
Jeremy said, ‘It has been encouraging to see the level of interest in the issue of loneliness and social isolation increasing over recent years. In many ways, the church has been at the forefront of building strong community relations for many centuries, and we have been pleased to be able to engage with and support this national campaign as it has developed.
'We would encourage all churches and Christians to consider at least one way in which they can engage in this key issue of our time.’
CTAL is made up of 10 organisations, all of which have an interest in addressing loneliness and social isolation. The coalition meets on a regular basis to discuss ways in which they can work together, and to share information about national initiatives with churches and faith groups.
The silent epidemic of loneliness Loneliness and social isolation is an increasingly significant issue in communities. The church can be a key part of the answer, writes Jeremy Sharpe