Churches tackle rising problem of isolation
PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 March 2015
CHURCHES in North Somerset are trying to tackle the growing problem of loneliness and social isolation in our communities.
Following a survey of Church of England vicars, social isolation was described as a significant problem by 64 per cent of clergy.
It was listed as a more common problem than unemployment, homelessness and poor housing by 1,812 church leaders who completed the questionnaire.
The Rev Jolyon Trickey, from Holy Trinity Church in Nailsea, has been working to tackle the growing problem in the town.
He said: “Social isolation is a significant problem. I became aware through local GPs how much of a problem it is because people suffer quietly in their homes through mental illness or age infirmity or loss of a spouse and they just gradually go into decline.
“We know of a number of people who are struggling with dementia or life management issues or people isolated because they are caring for a loved one long-term. I think it’s a real issue.
“We are tackling that through Pop-in which is a lunch club every Thursday aimed at people who are housebound, so we have enormous numbers of volunteers who go round to collect people who can’t get out themselves.
“People immensely value the friendship they find at Pop-in - the chance to have a couple of hours to sit and talk.
“Pam Salisbury (church member) is very concerned about being dementia friendly and raising awareness and understanding of the condition. We are training church members and members of the community to understand how to respond to people with dementia.
“The Tithe Barn Trust is also very concerned with trying to improve social inclusion and has started running a cooking club as well as music and memories classes.
“The goal is to make a place like Nailsea, that has an ageing population, as effective as it can be in caring for people who are isolated.”
A report by the Church Urban Fund, which carried out the survey, claims 46 per cent of churches are running activities to tackle social isolation such as family drop-in centres, debt advice, foodbanks, parenting courses, English language classes, youth work, lunch clubs for the elderly and dementia cafes.
David Maggs, social justice adviser for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, said: “We are concerned as a diocese that social isolation is increasing.
“We have been looking at isolation in our very rural communities and found it is something that disproportionately affects young people, older people and women. We want to inspire more widespread passion for action across our churches.”
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