New Study Show How The Church Could Combat Loneliness In 2022

STUDY SHOWS YOUNGER GENERATION ARE MORE AWARE OF LONELINESS IN OLDER PEOPLE SINCE COVID, BUT FEWER ARE AWARE OF THE WAYS OLDER PEOPLE VALUE THEM

With two-thirds of UK adults more aware of loneliness and isolation that older people may experience since Covid, Christian charity launches campaign to help the generations connect

This Blue Monday the UK continues to face high numbers of COVID infection rates, with many having to self-isolate or choosing to limit social engagements to protect themselves or loved ones. Research published today reveals that the pandemic has made 68% of adults aged 18-34 more aware of the loneliness and isolation older people experience. But while more than half (56%) of adults across all age groups agree that the younger generation (16-30-year-olds) brings value through their energy, enthusiasm, and outlook to the older generation (70+ years), of theses only around three in ten of the younger respondents (18-34-year-olds) are aware of the value their practical support (28%) and friendship (32%) could bring to older people. 

The study was conducted by Savanta ComRes on behalf of the Christian charity Pilgrims’ Friend Society who runs residential care homes and independent living housing schemes. In response to the findings, the charity is launching a new campaign encouraging churches to take some practical steps in 2022 to combat the loneliness experienced by both young and old.

A Pilgrims’ Friend Society resident enjoys some company

The survey reveals:

  • Three in five over 65s (59%) agreed the energy, enthusiasm, and outlook of the younger generation (16-30-year-olds) brought value to the older generation (70+ years).
  • Of these, two-thirds (67%) agreed that the younger generation could help with technology to keep them connected digitally, half (53%) indicated their usefulness in helping with practical activities and tasks and a similar number of respondents (52%) valued the companionship and friendship of the younger generation. 
  • In comparison, only a third of the younger generation were aware of the value their help with technology (35% of 18-34-year-olds) and companionship and friendship (32%) could bring, with even fewer (28%) noting the value of their help with practical activities and tasks.
  • On the other hand, just over half of the younger generation (55%) agree that the older generation (70+ years) brings value through their life experience, wisdom and perspective to the younger generation (16-30), compared to 81% of those who are 65 years and older. 
  • Interestingly, of those identifying themselves as Christians surveyed who felt that the younger generation brings value to the older generation only 17% agreed that the younger generation could bring value to the older generation by sharing their faith in God.
  • A slightly higher percentage of professing Christians (21%) who feel the older generation brings value to the younger generation saw value in older generation sharing their faith in God with the younger generation and how God has impacted their lives and those around them.

Stephen Hammersley, CEO of Pilgrims’ Friend Society says,  “Although our research last year revealed that ageism is on the rise, we have so much hope for 2022. We want to help people not just to recognise the problem of loneliness in older people but realise that they can do something about it. While the research highlights that the older generation does appear to value the younger generations more, we believe that both young and old have so much to give and can relate to each other more than they think – including sharing their faith. As Christians we believe we were designed for community across the generations. Psalm 78 v 4 says ‘we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done’. A simple friendly act or word or practical help can bring joy; build confidence and self-esteem; lead to new friendships and be good news to those around us.”

Pilgrims’ Friend Society have used this research, along with their own experience and expertise to launch the campaign #FriendshipIsAgeless. They are calling on the churches to take 5 simple steps to combat loneliness this year by building friendships between generations and inspiring others on social media under #friendshipisageless.

1.   LOOK UP 

Next time you go for a walk, even if you are just going to the shops or the park, why not challenge yourself to look up and say hello to someone of a different generation? You could start by praying for them and the courage to speak to them. 

2.   POST A NOTE 

Send a message or card to someone from your church, a neighbour, a relative, or a resident at your local care home. If you are older, it could be the single mum down the road or the students next door. 

3.   DIVE IN 

See what’s going on in your church and the local community to identify opportunities to connect. You could consider volunteering at your church, for New Kapporet• or calling your local care home. If you are older you could get involved in the youth group, volunteer to help listen to young children reading in school or Samaritans.

4.     SHARE LIFE

Find out what someone needs or is interested in, whether it is help with homework, a family crisis, or spiritual discipleship. Is it something you can do together or something you could share? For example, helping them to update their tablet software, reading the bible together, swapping recipes, or creating a joint playlist. You could encourage your church to set up special interest groups so hobbies and interests can be shared across generations. 

5.    #FriendshipIsAgeless

Share your story using the hashtag #FriendshipIsAgeless and tag @pilgrimsfriend or visit  pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/friendship. If you are a younger person this could be an opportunity to help someone older to connect online. 

•New Kapporet is a Christian ministry that offers listening and prayer support via phone, email, and text. 

Written By: Megan Hills

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