10 Christian charities unite to end loneliness and social isolation among the elderly
Many Christian charities have called upon churches to help play their part in the Government’s new strategy to tackle loneliness and social isolation among the elderly.
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Loneliness, recently introduced the loneliness strategy in the House of Commons.
A coalition of Christian groups, including Linking Lives UK, Parish Nursing, and the Bible Reading Fellowship’s The Gift of Years team, as well as seven other charities are all actively part of the new scheme ‘Churches Together Against Loneliness’ which aims to raise awareness and tackle the ever-growing issue of social isolation.
Jeremy Sharpe, National Co-ordinator of Linking Lives UK, said: “It is often the case that the local church is the only source of community support, particularly in rural areas, and we all, therefore, have a crucial role to play in responding to loneliness.”
Loneliness is increasingly becoming a significant social concern in the UK, with three-quarters of GP’s in a survey saying that they saw at least one person every day who suffered from loneliness. Research found that this has been linked to heart disease, strokes and an increase in Alzheimer’s, among many other health problems.
Within the Government’s new strategy, by 2023 all GP’s in England will be able to refer patients suffering from isolation to community activities and voluntary services.
Funding will be available to allow patients to participate in activities such as walking groups and cookery classes to help individuals feel part of a community and to ultimately avoid expensive medical intervention further down the line.
Another development incorporated in the scheme will be a pilot project where postal workers will be trained to check on vulnerable and lonely people during their rounds.
At present, Living Lives UK connects 160 isolated elderly people with younger Christian’s who have made a commitment to visit and befriend them.