COLUMN: Cure loneliness with friendship by Rev Thorpe

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We recently surveyed a few hundred people who are from a diverse age range and demographic within Ilkeston and asked them: “what are you most concerned about?”

Interestingly, the top three were trouble in the world, loneliness and relationships, and debt and finance.

Loneliness was an interesting one because surely this only affects a small minority?

I recently read a report that announced Britain to be the loneliness capital of Europe, which affects the young as much as the older generation. We have a loneliness epidemic across our communities.

Loneliness affects every age group, creed, culture and demographic.

You can be in a crowd and still be lonely!

As a local church leader and someone who carries a real heart for people in our community, I see loneliness all the time.

I am grateful to the many people and community and faith groups in Ilkeston that connect with people to alleviate loneliness and isolation from so many but more needs to be done.

Together we can make a difference. Our friendship and care can be the antidote to this loneliness epidemic.

So to address the felt needs of our community, I recently challenged a wide group of listeners with the following advice:

1. Start to look out for someone new who you can be a friend to. A neighbour, work colleague, a person at the school gates - wherever! Open up your heart and lives to others.

2. If you have a fractured relationship, swallow all pride and take the first step to reconnect and to reconcile. YOU make the first move.

3. If you have previously experienced betrayal, rejection or even abuse reach out to those who can help and support you. I know this is difficult but don’t get caught up in the cycle of isolation and mistrust.

Break free with the purpose of reconnecting with others and then building healthy friendships.

We will make a difference in our locality by simply being a friend.

Interestingly, Jesus was noted for being many things but the community described him as a “friend to