Author: Alex Drew
Winter is on its way, and for some of us, with it come thoughts of cosy times by the fire, sipping hot chocolate, making Christmas plans with the family, and enjoying bracing winter walks with friends.
For many older people however, these shorter and darker days will be a time of increased loneliness as the cold prevents some from venturing out to their usual groups and activities.
This is understandable; travel confidence dips in the winter, and who wants to stand at the bus stop in the cold and rain, only to come back in the dark to a silent, empty home?
But winters can be long, and this loss of social connection and companionship, can have serious consequences, affecting peoples’ mental and physical health. This loneliness is so bad for us that its impact on our health is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day, increasing the risk of premature death.
It gets worse in the winter months most years when loneliness is a key contributor to around 25,000-30,000 excess deaths, most of which are represented by older people.
We all have a God-given need for community, as early as Genesis 2 God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”, even God himself is a community of three. Loneliness and social isolation over a prolonged period are not His plans for anyone.
Love My Neighbour is a simple but potentially lifesaving and lifegiving campaign to remind and encourage us all to intentionally connect with our older neighbours this winter.
Whether we live in a house, a flat, in a care home, or anywhere else; this is a wonderful opportunity to share God’s love with people within and beyond the church family, and it’s so easy!
In essence it’s as simple as:
· Praying for our neighbours
· Popping by for a chat
· Inviting our neighbours
· Getting to know each other
For those who want to go a little further, we encourage you to introduce your older neighbours to church, where they can be fully known and embraced into a loving family, to enjoy purpose and meaningful friendships well beyond these winter months.
And of course, we believe that a relationship with Jesus is the ultimate lifelong and eternal response to loneliness, and so we have a few ideas about helping older people gently explore faith.
You’ll find ideas and resources to help you pray for and bless your older neighbours on our website, and we’ll share regular inspiration on social media too.
Some of this will take us away from that cosy fireside idyll, and we might get cold toes as we stand on our neighbour’s doorstep, but these are small sacrifices to help bring life to our older neighbours this winter, and they may yet bring us more life too.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
Whether you’re one person, a couple, a homegroup, or a whole church, we hope you’ll join in with Love My Neighbour this winter to help shut this window of winter loneliness and open the door to connection, friendship, and God’s incredible love.