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  • Debbie Ducille

Loneliness Awareness Week, 10–16 June

This important annual campaign explores something few of us wish to really acknowledge: the growing number of people who experience intense loneliness in the UK. The theme this year is Random Acts of Connection. Marmalade Trust has created this excellent website with resources including a guide to loneliness and social isolation. The guide says, ‘We all feel lonely at times – it’s a natural human emotion. We’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more. A definition: “Loneliness is a perceived mismatch between the quality or quantity of social connections that a person has and what they would like to have” (Perlman and Peplau, 1981).’

‘Prolonged social isolation and loneliness can have the same harmful impact on a person’s health and mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day’ (Holt-Lunstad, Smith,  and Layton, 2010): it can affect any age group and affects each person differently. For Anna Chaplains, their focus is often upon journeying with older people who may be struggling with loss of all kinds, transition/moving house and decreasing physical mobility to get out to social events as they might wish. These all present an increased risk of experiencing loneliness.

Anna Chaplaincy is a member of Christians Together Against Loneliness, and several member organisations offer events and resources to help churches and individuals to consider simple ways to combat loneliness in our communities.

For those who would like a longer read, take a look at the Centre for Social Justice ‘Lonely Nation’ report, released in the last few weeks. You can download it/read it here. Interestingly, it places great emphasis on the importance of family, the impact of family breakdown and its relationship to loneliness. The report found that ‘… during 2023 a quarter of the (UK) population felt regularly lonely, a figure that has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.’

For those who would like to hear about practical ways to combat loneliness in their communities, our friends at Linking Lives are offering a free one-hour webinar on Tuesday 18 June, 11.00 am – 12 noon. You can book to attend through Eventbrite using this link. Linking Lives combats loneliness and isolation amongst older people by working with churches and Christian charities across the UK. This is achieved by setting up local befriending projects, training volunteers operating in community spaces and inspiring individuals to make a difference to the lives of those around them.

Debbie reflects:

‘We are so proud of our Anna Chaplaincy network members, who regularly combat loneliness and social isolation through their ministry of compassionate presence and the gift of time generously given, through thousands of connections made every month across the land. We hope to share more practical resources that enables spiritual care among older people with the network in the coming weeks.’



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