Southampton Churches help older people fight loneliness and isolation from home

    Diocesan News
    24 Nov. 2020

    Churches across Southampton have come together to help tackle the sense of loneliness and isolation in the older community, with the help of a local charity.

    In partnership with the Christian charity Caraway, Highfield, St Mary’s, Sholing, St James and Shirley, Lordswood, St Denys, organised a ‘virtual holiday at home’ event for older members of the community to mark the 400th Anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.

    During the second lockdown, the ‘virtual voyage’ provided older residents with an opportunity to connect with other members of the community. A team of volunteers delivered a holiday package which included a detailed history of the Mayflower, crafting activities, and an afternoon tea provided by Waitrose.

    Reverend Canon Erica Roberts, City Chaplain for Older People and Caraway Founder said: "Loneliness has been called the ’Silent Epidemic’, leading to an increased incidence of both mental and physical health problems. During COVID, when social isolation has become even more acute, Caraway has enabled the local church to connect with those living alone, creating a sense of belonging and being valued. Participants of this holiday experience commented on how it made them feel more included and part of something bigger.”

    Over 40 people attended the interactive Zoom event which also included Mayflower Bingo, and sea shanties with local band, FolkActive. Volunteers made sure that everyone was able to access and use Zoom and took time training those who needed help over the phone.

    Right Reverend Debbie Sellin, Bishop of Southampton said: “This year social isolation has been an increasing challenge for everyone, particularly for those who are older where social networks are already diminished due to bereavement, physical frailty and a disconnect from families who can so often live at a distance. I am pleased to see churches coming together to show compassion to all God has made and celebrate the wisdom of the aged.”

    The event was a reimagined version of Caraway’s ‘Holiday at Home’ initiative where Southampton churches invite guests to a themed event for older residents who are unable travel abroad. Caraway is a Christian charity that aims to promote the spiritual well-being of the older person in Southampton and is supported by a network of Anna Chaplains.