We can all experience loneliness at different stages of our life, but as we grow older, it can become more likely. This is truer still if we experience serious illness, become a carer or are bereaved.
The Compassionate Neighbours project at Trinity matches local people to tackle loneliness and the social isolation that many people face when nearing the end of life due to age or illness.
Amanda was trained by Trinity as a Compassionate Neighbour in early 2023 and started visiting Kathy in March. As part of Loneliness Awareness Week, our Community Engagement Officer, Patrick, spoke with them to get their thoughts on their relationship so far and the difference it has made.
Kathy: “I just find that it is nice that someone cares outside the family, that is a big thing for me. That you take the time to come and visit me means a lot, I feel very lucky to have Amanda come and visit me. It’s been absolutely brilliant, and I always look forward to our meetings. I hope the scheme takes off so others can enjoy it as much as me.”
Kathy also expressed how she found it surprising that people such as Amanda would give their time to help others, and how nice that was. “Like I say a lot of people have their own lives, do not really have time for other people, and I think it is lovely, that Amanda takes the time out of her life, with her little family, to visit someone who is unwell, and we have a laugh. I feel like I could say anything.”
Kathy and Amanda connected over areas of shared interest that were occasionally surprising, such as Kathy going raving at 56, which inspired Amanda to find opportunities to go out dancing.
Amanda talked about how spending time with Kathy had developed so quickly into something that felt natural:
“It is a lot more natural and organic than I thought it would be. I was nervous in case Kathy didn’t like me or in case I didn’t have anything to say… Though we’ve got plenty to talk about, and the time goes so quickly.”
Since Compassionate Neighbours launched at Trinity, we have trained over 30 people, and have 13 neighbours matched with community members.
Our compassionate neighbours are dedicated people with an inherent desire to help others. Many have expressed how through becoming a compassionate neighbour they also get a lot from it themselves, finding renewed confidence and resilience through getting to know new people outside of their usual connections.
We are excited to see how Compassionate Neighbours will continue to grow and develop. The project is just one example of how rewarding it can be to find connections with others in life and that this has an impact in alleviating loneliness. The pathways to confront loneliness can often be challenging and complex, but through building social connections, even just with one other person, we can make a real impact.