Representatives of Christians Together Against Loneliness (CTAL) met last week with Mims Davies, the government minister with responsibility for tackling loneliness.
The coalition of charities is working to highlight to government the vital work that churches and faith groups have been doing for many years to address issues of loneliness and social isolation – which are gaining increasing profile across society. At the meeting, Mims Davies recognised the value of faith groups’ work and agreed with the need for this to be effectively joined up with efforts across civil society and government.
The minister singled out befriending as a key strategy for tackling loneliness and something that churches and faith groups traditionally excel at. She also mentioned the importance of volunteering, recognising faith groups as important centres for this, particularly when it comes to including people with disabilities and supporting them to volunteer. And she signalled her desire not only to unpick the stigma around loneliness, but also to help find a way to overcome any reluctance that other organisations might have around working with faith groups.
The coalition is now developing a toolkit for churches and faith groups to help inspire and equip them as they reach out to their neighbours.
National Director of Linking Lives UK, Jeremy Sharpe, explained
‘We were delighted that Mims Davies was able to spare the time to meet with representatives of CTAL to discuss the key role of faith groups in reaching socially isolated members of local communities. We were encouraged by her positive response to our ideas and suggestions, and look forward to continuing this dialogue with members of her team in the future.’
Christians Together Against Loneliness are: Care Home Friends, Faith in Later Life, FaithAction, the Gift of Years, Linking Lives UK, Livability, Parish Nursing UK, Pilgrims Friend Society, Salvation Army, Together Network (Church Urban Fund) and Torch Trust. They would like to thank the Rt Rev’d James Newcombe, Bishop of Carlisle, for arranging the meeting and attending in his capacity as the Church of England’s lead bishop on health and social care and patron of Linking Lives UK and Parish Nursing UK.