Updated: Nov 14, 2020
In these days, there has been a lot of press coverage around the appointment of the UK's first Minister of Loneliness (Tracey Crouch). The problem of loneliness has become so widespread in the UK (around 9 million people are reporting to be "isolated") that Theresa May has decided it needs attention at the governmental level. Older people are the first to suffer from loneliness surely, but we know that loneliness in the UK and in big cities is a intergenerational issue.
But what can we do to fight loneliness in our neighbours, cities and communities? There are 5 ways which come to mind, detached from the work of social services for the elderly. These are five simple actions we can take to at least give a personal answer and importance to the issue of loneliness in London.
Whilst you are walking to work or are waiting for your friend at a tube station, have a look around: do you see any older people in need of assistance crossing the road maybe, or trying to sort their food shopping in different bags? Or maybe they need help going up the stairs. A simple look and an accompanying helping gesture could change someone's day. Because let's face it: Londoners do want to help - it's not true we're always rushing around.
There is nothing stopping us when we want to ask "are you okay?". Older people tend to give an honest reply to this question, and will let you know if they are not. It's a very simple question yet again, it helps the older person open up and also realise there are people out there who care. One of the worst parts about loneliness is that one feels almost invisible: by asking how they are, we are letting them know that we see them.