The age of loneliness
Loneliness is epidemic among older people in Britain but churches are well placed to make a difference, says Debbie Thrower
Most of us have put on the television at some point when we are at home on our own, just for background noise as much as the content. Research by the charity Age UK reveals that two-fifths of older people in Britain say that this is their main form of company and more than half of all people aged 75 and over live alone.
As Mother Teresa remarked: ‘Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.’
What’s being done to combat this sort of loneliness that so impoverishes lives? The murder of MP Jo Cox sparked outrage which has resulted in an outpouring of goodwill and funds channelled into the project that she was in the process of creating when she died, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
This spring, as the commission began its work, five Christian organisations got together in support of the campaign, helping churches to do more to combat loneliness among older people: Capital Mass, Linking Lives UK, Livability, Pilgrim’s Friend Society and The Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF).
BRF’s main contribution is through the Anna Chaplaincy to Older People, named after the 85-year-old prophet Anna who appears with Simeon in Luke’s Gospel, prophesying over Jesus. The chaplaincy provides person-centred care for older people whether they have strong, little, or no faith at all. Anna Chaplains are based in the community and also support relatives and professional carers. They visit people in their homes who are struggling, and listen to men and women in residential care. …
Debbie Thrower is an Anna Chaplain to Older People. She contributes to The Gift of Years: Bible
reflections for older people. www.thegiftofyears.org.uk
This is an extract from the June 2017 edition of Reform