Thanks for completing our loneliness survey – here is what we found!

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to complete our loneliness survey. We’ve had a great response, and you’re confirming what we suspected – that faith groups are doing a huge amount to work to reach out to people who might be lonely or isolated.

Not only that, but faith groups have been doing this work for a long time – I was struck by the number of people saying that their organisation has been running some activities for 20, 30 or even more than 50 years. Loneliness might be a ‘hot’ topic at the moment, but faith groups have been on the frontline, offering a place to go or simply someone to listen, since well before the government decided it was time to act. It’s not for nothing that we often say that faith is ‘first in and last out’ within our communities.

I haven’t been surprised, either, by the variety shown in the initiatives people have told us about. There’s the network of Good Neighbours across Hampshire and beyond – groups of volunteers who offer what they can to people who live in their local community and need some help, whether that’s lifts to hospital appointments, small DIY jobs or befriending.

There’s the individual place of worship that decided to take a thorough look at how it could use its facilities to meet the needs in its immediate community. Not only is it now using its kitchen to provide a drop-in meal for its isolated or homeless neighbours, but it lets out rooms to a host of other groups, including health services and other faith groups.

And there are the chaplains in Birmingham and Solihull who go into workplaces and offer a listening ear to people who have found they can’t talk to anyone else about what’s on their mind – as well as, in some large workplaces, running groups to bring people together who might not know each other.

Schemes like these are so effective that bodies like local councils, health commissioners, and businesses are happy to support them – even financially – because they recognise the benefit that they bring.

I’ve been particularly pleased to hear that, because we know that in some places, officials can still be a bit nervous about working with faith-based organisations (that’s why we worked with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society to develop the Faith Covenant). So it’s fantastic to hear about all the places where faith groups are a trusted partner in combating isolation and loneliness.

Of course, the examples here are only a few of many. If you haven’t yet filled in the survey, it’s not too late. It will be open for a couple more weeks, so why not take five minutes now?

Rodie Garland

About Rodie Garland

Rodie is FaithAction’s Policy Advisor. She leads on parts of FaithAction’s programme of work for the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England – especially on our Faith and Public Health research and on Friendly Places. She also works on our FaithLab initiative to collect evidence of good and innovative practice from faith groups in addressing social problems.