Many of us know of a neighbour or relative who lives alone but how many of us take that next step in actually taking time out to chat to them on a regular basis? A report from the Alzheimer’s Society found the as much as 1 in 10 people with a dementia only leave their homes once a month. 1 in 5 say the feel they have nobody to turn to and 5 million feel the TV is their main source of company.
While it is true that many elderly people would be reluctant to open their door to a stranger, most would positively welcome a little card through the door initially introducing yourself and your family and possibly offering a small service such as light gardening, shopping errands or help with some small household maintenance. Many older people find it difficult to ask for assistance, feeling they are being a nuisance to busy younger people. Even something as simple as reaching up to retrieve an item from the top of a wardrobe may be beyond the capabilities of an older person who is unsteady on their feet.
Labour MP Jo Cox who was sadly murdered last year had highlighted this issue and was trying to lobby the government to do more to help. In one of her columns she wrote of a volunteer who works as a befriender for the local Royal Voluntary Service who takes some time out regularly to chat to lonely people. He also assists with a few simple chores around the house and then takes them out for a cuppa. She praised the excellent work that volunteers do and called on more of us to get involved.
To honour the work of Jo, the Jo Cox Foundation is marking the anniversary of her death with The Great Get Together, an initiative to try to bring communities closer together on the weekend of 17th and 18th June 2017. Batley and Spen (Jo’s former constituency) will be having a street party with a huge gingham tablecloth and are inviting locals to get creative with gingham decorations. It looks to be a fun event for all ages and will serve to encourage people to get to know each other and, hopefully make some lasting friendships to help stop loneliness for many. For more information click on the link here.