I visit home shut-ins, people in hospitals, and people in nursing homes.
I sometimes bring Ruby with me.
When I am visiting someone from a congregation in a nursing home, I have been in the habit of playing Christian hymns and songs on my guitar in the activity room, if it is available, and I share a devotion. In this way, I sometimes get joiners who would be left out if I held the devotion privately in my member's room.
On Christmas Day, I was unable to visit any shut-in members (more than 100 miles from my home, and the weather had prevented me from preaching on December 24), but I did call them, individually, on my phone.
Ruby knows a lot of people in our city and is big-hearted to them.
I know a man who lives alone in a shabby mobile home. He has some limits on what he can do because he cannot read. I met him through Ruby, who has
known him for many years.
Ruby was on the phone with him one day and he mentioned that it was his birthday. Ruby invited him over to our home. We spent some time with him and fed him. I gifted him a nice Old Spice brand toiletry kit.
I could tell he was moved. (I don't think anyone else took notice of his birthday.) Sometime within the next week he stopped by and left me a gift of a box of small snack cakes while I was at work.
The problem with many who are lonely and shut in, is that many people are not even aware that these people exist. It's, sadly, and invisible problem,
because those who are lonely are often not of a mind to get out and meet people. How to connect with such people is problematic.
I think you are spot on, Mary, the absence of religion and family does make for an increasingly isolated society.
The Barista Course is a great idea, and I wish your students well in it.
What exactly is a 'Minister for Loneliness' going to do about it?
I live alone now - but am never lonely as I am blessed with good friends, kind neighbours, and the ability to pursue lots of hobbies. Supposing I was lonely - what would Tracey Crouch do - invite me round for tea?
How is she going to differentiate between those who are lonely and those who just value their privacy?
It is a pretty thought but I cannot see how it will work.
I think it's about creating opportunities for those who want to have somewhere to go.
Not everyone is as lucky as you, 'Nim. But I have to say I'm surprised that a 71 year old should feel that way today. I have a number of friends in their 70s, and a couple in their 80s. They weren't that old when I got to know them, mind. It just sort of happened.
I do know how lucky I am, John, and frequently count my blessings. The fact that I am still fit and able to take off on a whim is an advantage. Also
we have a good community spirit here - if I were not seen for a couple days one of the neighbours would be round to check if I were OK. My next door
neighbour often asks if there is anything I need when he is going to the shops.
What puzzles me is - how do these people become so isolated in the first place? Yes - we lose partners/relatives, children grow up and leave home, but do they not stay in touch with them? Do they not keep in contact with friends? I am in daily contact with my best friend - either meeting for coffee in each other's houses or a quick chat on the telephone. My oldest friend has been around since I was 2yrs old and we chat on the telephone and meet up for crafting sessions quite often.
It must be more difficult if they are housebound - but do their friends just cast them off because they cannot go out with them?
It is a sad reflection on society that there are people who feel like this - but I still don't see what a 'minister' can do about it.
I don't suppose the minister does, yet. If it was me, I would encourage local initiatives perhaps by offering grants or liaising with local councils about opening up council offices or rooms in buildings to enable coffee mornings and stuff. Its obviously got to be a local thing so the minister cant be everywhere at once.
I think that families move away or work such long hours that there is no time for a regular meet up. People used to live and work in the same area for most of their lives but I have lived on three continents and the offspring of my generation are far flung. I am meeting my friends for lunch today that I went to school with but only one of us lives in the town we grew up in so I think your situation is rarer than you would like to think Nim. My former colleague who is in her 80s still gets out and about despite being blind but that's largely down to folk like me making the effort. If you were something in your community - like the teacher or the nurse - people look out for you. If you didn't work or have the funds to get out and about it would be easy to become isolated.
Someone online complained about taking their daughter to ballet and sitting at in the café to read their book while another parent came over and sat down across from them and started to chat. I was amongst the few who thought it "acceptable" to chat to a stranger. The vast majority of the English Brits thought it rude to intrude. So if that is the majority viewpoint social isolation will only get worse. No more acceptance of the stranger who might be a potential new friend.
Well said Nim. You've only got to look around at the number of people who are so engrossed in a small rectangular box that they can't even drive a car without looking at it to see how loneliness can be a real issue.
I think Nim has nailed it. Loneliness is for those who can't get out to the organised stuff. I suppose that's where neighbours come in. And
people like Scholar.
As Jimi Hendrix once,sang "Loneliness is such a drag"
With fewer organised groups to "do something" it is up to individuals to step up. The whole "big society" thing never took off here.
In our old house, I used to be a bit of a gardener - ish. I always envied the lawn in the house two or three doors down. Then, when the lawn started
to suffer from lack of attention, I decided to knock and ask if the woman needed any help. She accepted and I cut her grass for a while.
But it soon became obvious, that the main thing she appreciated was me being there and having a cup of tea with her. The thing is, I had a young family and didn't really want to spend too long with her. I didn't mind a quick cuppa but I wanted to get in, cut the grass, drink the tea and go. She wanted a lot more. And not in the biblical sense I might quickly add. She died soon after.
But, at least you made the effort, John. Many others would have just said, "They should do something". Whoever this mythical "THEY" is.