On 19th December at 4.00pm, Boris Johnson announced that most of the south east of England, London and parts of the east of England were to be placed into tier at midnight, and that for the rest of the UK, Christmas gatherings were to be significantly curtailed or cancelled.

When I heard this news, I must confess that my immediate reaction was to jump in the car and head to the nearest supermarket to pick up one or two last minute food items for Christmas which were needed. I was struck by the number of people on the roads (probably mostly doing the same thing!), which was an indication of many people’s response to this latest twist in the story of Covid-19 during 2020.

I later discovered, that a couple from our church who were due to be married on 21st December, managed to put in place all the necessary arrangements to move the small ceremony to take place the same day as the announcement, and they were happily married by 9.00pm (thanks to an amazing effort by friends and family!).

I later reflected, however, on those many millions of people who – unlike me – were unable to quickly and easily respond to this sudden development. For those in such circumstances, an already challenging and stressful situation will have very quickly worsened, as they considered the pressing practical, emotional and psychological implications of perhaps being unable to see family members during the Christmas period.

There are at least 2.1 million people living alone in the regions currently classified as ‘tier 4’, and at least 761,000 of these are over the age of 65

As we move towards one of the most unusual Christmas and new year periods for many years, I am reminded that the person of Jesus, whose birth many of us are celebrating at this time, spent much of his short life on earth reaching out to those on the margins of society. This included those treated by many as ‘outsiders’ including those with disabilities and other health problems, as well as tax collectors, outcasts and those with no friends or family.

We face, what could be, a further lengthy and extremely difficult time as we enter varying degrees of lockdown over the coming weeks. All of us face our own individual stresses and concerns and so it remains extremely important that all of us to remain vigilant as to the needs of those around us – particularly those who are on their own and less able to fend for themselves.

Linking Lives UK works closely with local churches across the UK, and we will be running a series of 90 minute regional webinars focusing on loneliness and social isolation during January and February. These are based on other events which we have run in recent months, and they will provide opportunities for discussion, suggestions of ideas to reach and support socially isolated older people in particular, and a summary of our telephone befriending model – Two’s Company – which is available to churches. We will initially be focusing on the following regions:

London boroughs
To register your interest in attending, please complete the form below and select ‘Training’. We will contact you in early January with details of the date and time of the event in your area.

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