Linking Lives UK is part of a coalition of faith based charities called ‘Christians Together Against Loneliness’ which has been consulted in plans for a national campaign starting this week, which aims to raise awareness of issues relating to loneliness and social isolation.
The campaign begins during Loneliness Awareness Week (17th-21st June) and aims to reduce the stigma of talking about loneliness, and will encourage more openness and discussion about the issue. The year-long campaign called ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ will be launched simultaneously by the government, and will encourage individuals, charities, businesses and public sector organisations to engage with it during the year. The campaign is being launched in response to increasing evidence of the serious nature of loneliness, such as:
• 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.
• 3.9M older people consider television as their main form of company.
Why should churches and individual Christians get involved?
Why should churches 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 Linking Lives UK and Chair of Christians Together Against Loneliness 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.’
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, www.letstalkloneliness.co.uk 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 highlights, ‘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.’
Christians Together Against Loneliness (CTAL):
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.
Care Home Friends
Equipping the church to tackle the loneliness of the elderly in care homes, through trained volunteers spending time and building friendship with residents.
FaithAction is a national network supporting faith-based organisations involved in social action. We act as a link to Government and advocate on behalf of faith groups from all traditions. We work with the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance; the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, delivering our Creative English programme; and are the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society.
Faith in Later Life
Faith in Later Life exists to inspire and equip Christians and churches to reach, serve and empower older people in every community, so that they may live fulfilled and fruitful lives in older age. The website provides resources relating to different aspects of later life; and also hosts an interactive national map of church led social activities for older people of all faiths and none.
Germinate Arthur Rank Centre
We are a Christian ecumenical charity and exist to promote religious activities and values amongst rural communities. In particular we help Christian churches in rural areas by sharing good practice, training and the encouragement of Christian ministry. We also work to improve the quality of life of those living or working in rural communities and we aim to develop greater understanding between urban and rural communities.
Linking Lives UK
Linking Lives UK works with churches and Christian organisations across the UK to support the establishment of befriending schemes aimed at isolated older people. Local schemes use our tried and tested approach which includes access to key documents and procedures. Other activities and social events can also be developed in local communities.
Livability is the disability charity that connects people with their communities. We tackle social isolation and the barriers that can cause this in the lives of disabled and vulnerable people. Our dementia inclusive church work helps churches to become places where those living with dementia to continue to be part of the community. https://livability.org.uk/resources/travelling-together/
Parish Nursing Ministries UK
Parish Nursing Ministries is a Christian charity which helps local churches appoint nurses, who in turn support people and communities towards whole person healthcare. This is care for the person’s overall wellbeing, incorporating body, mind and spirit.
Pilgrim’s Friend Society
We are a charity that provides the Christian love, support and encouragement that older people need to live fulfilled lives. We are passionate about helping people who are lonely, and helping people who are distant from God to come to know him.
The Gift of Years
from BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) inspires, equips and enables communities across the UK to improve the spiritual lives of older people. The programme is developing Anna Chaplaincy to Older People, an ecumenical, community based
model of chaplaincy offering spiritual support to older people and their relatives and carers. Our Messy Vintage resources (thegiftofyears.org.uk/messy-vintage) offer a practical way for churches to use Bible-based craft activities to reach out to older people
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army exists for those who do not belong to it as much as for those who do. In this present day crisis of loneliness, the Army welcomes all and everyone to all their church and community activities across the UK, which include friendship groups, befriending, lunch clubs, choirs, especially for older people. The Salvation Army longs to win this war on loneliness with the weapons of love, time, relationship and faith.