On the Subject of Loneliness

Last night I started a volunteer placement at a social club for lonely people, organised by Christian-based charity Archway Foundation. The evening started with tea, coffee, biscuits and chat as people arrived. It was difficult to distinguish between volunteers and ‘friends’ (service-users). Each week some form of entertainment is provided, and last night a guitar/singing duo performed a variety of songs, including the hits of Buddy Holly, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Simon and Garfunkel. In the latter half of the evening, after the audience had participated by clapping and singing along, chairs were cleared away to make space for dancing. It was amazing to see the difference in people, who previously were struggling to lift a tea-cup, get out of their chairs and move to an old 50’s hit. And the overall lift in atmosphere from the beginning of the evening to the end was palpable.

The people who come to Archway come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some are elderly, some are suffering from mental health problems, or other health problems that prevent them from working. A question I have is how much does loneliness inhibit our actions – are we less likely to get up and dance if we have had limited social contact? And how much does general inhibition stop us from forming strong relationships with one another? The friends at last night’s social clapped, sang and danced, but only when invited to.

And we all finished with the hokey-kokey!

2 thoughts on “On the Subject of Loneliness

  1. Rachel Post author

    Interestingly, the following week we all played bingo and where as previously much energy had been generated, there was not the same buzzing atmosphere. Bingo, a much-used activity in the social care of older adults (think residential care homes), does not allow for a great deal of interaction because any talking means people can’t hear the numbers – it is not conducive to conversation.

  2. Margaret Day

    Hi Rachel
    Many thanks for your interest and support for Archway, and we do hope your blog will help other people think about these issues. However, since you put up the piece about Archway we have moved to a new website and the internal page you use as our URL is no longer available. It would really help, and save annoying your readers, if you could update the link to just http://www.archwayfoundation.org.uk

    Many thanks and best wishes

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