Last week, the Cardiff Blues Rugby Team donated 30 tickets to the Royal Voluntary Service (http://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/), for volunteers and older people to go to the game. For lonely people, it is not, as the Royal Voluntary Service highlighted, solutions to loneliness are not always about a cup of tea.
For some people, the solution to loneliness is tea and cake, just look at the work by Contact the Elderly (http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/), but for others this isn’t going to cut it. The solution needs to fit the individual otherwise the help being offered can lead to increasing loneliness rather than eradicating it.
In west London, they have numerous solutions to end loneliness, including Men’s Sheds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T8RTis6JGI) where it is easy to build relationships as those involved get to know each other through the DIY projects and work they do together. Age UK Milton Keynes (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/miltonkeynes/) offer coach trips for those over 55, and local churches can be found to offer a range of community services from mother and baby clubs to creative threads (knitting & needle work clubs).
There is also always the opportunity to learn new skills. Age UK highlight that there are now more than 600,000 learners over 60 in England alone. There are local computer clubs, evening courses, and courses available on line or through the internet. Future Learn (https://www.futurelearn.com/) offer a range of on-line courses from a range of universities free of charge. Sometimes, the support of a befriender, volunteer or family member may be required initially but people are never too old to learn!
The key to solving loneliness is building up meaningful relationships. As Kim Culbertson puts it: ‘People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world’.