The Courier Community Kindness Campaign begins today. Aiming to tackle loneliness, we hope readers will help us extend the hand of friendship to those who most need it.
Our Kindness Campaign last winter saw more than 500 wonderful Courier readers redeeming vouchers and reaching out to vulnerable members of society. This time, we want to double that figure and we need your help to do it.
It’s really easy: all you have to do is cut out the coupon in today’s paper for a free Courier, and the Spar voucher for a free 125g packet of their own brand tea bags, claim your free paper and tea bags, and then take them round to someone in your community you know is on their own. At the same time, you can take the opportunity to ask if they’re OK and if there’s anything you can do to give them a helping hand.
It could be an elderly neighbour, someone recently bereaved, a person with disability who finds it hard to get out, a young mum struggling with a new baby, a war veteran or someone who has recently lost a beloved pet.
A recent report by the Scottish Government reveals poignant real-life stories of older people suffering from extreme negative effects of social isolation and loneliness: the older people who go to their doctor each Monday because they have no one else for company, a woman so socially isolated she lived without power for months, and young people who can forget what it is like to be in the company of other young people.
And yet sometimes all it takes is a knock at the door and a friendly face asking: “Are you OK?” to open the channels of communication and offer a social lifeline.
Our four-week campaign, which will run every Monday between today and December 4, aims to combat these issues by helping to raise awareness of anyone in Courier Country who might be feeling lonely or isolated, for whatever reason.
Morna O’May, head of service Scotland at Contact the Elderly, is right behind our campaign:
“We are absolutely delighted The Courier has launched a campaign to promote kindness in the community,” she says. “It is a superb initiative to encourage people to make a difference with tea bags accompanying today’s paper.
“Loneliness is a blight on society and it is more important than ever to proactively consider how we can tackle this mounting issue. Whatever the best avenue for individuals to break the cycle of isolation, the route is always kindness.
“Our charity offers an invaluable lifeline of friendship to older people who live alone. Our monthly tea parties are beloved by our guests and volunteers throughout the region and to hear the difference they make month after month, year after year is incredibly heartening,” she continues.
“Isolation is a huge issue but eradicating it can be very simple. Striking up a conversation, enjoying a cup of tea and being open to the idea of making new friends is the solution in many instances.
Keith Robson, Age Scotland’s charity director, adds: “Most of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives. But loneliness and social isolation are a daily reality for far too many older Scots, especially those who have lost family members or have limited mobility.
“Sadly, one in six people over 75 say they haven’t spoken to friends, relatives or neighbours in a week, while 40 per cent say that the TV or a pet is their main form of company. At this time of year, many of us are looking forward to spending the festive period with family and friends, but 40,000 older people in Scotland will spend Christmas Day alone,” he continues.
“This not only impacts people’s enjoyment of life, but it also has a devastating impact on our mental and physical health. Loneliness is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and worse than obesity. It can exacerbate health conditions such as heart disease or cancer, and make people more vulnerable to dementia.
“Something as simple as popping round to see a neighbour for a cup of tea and a blether can make a huge difference and really lift their day. I’d encourage everyone to get involved with the Courier Community Kindness Campaign, reach out to someone, and start to tackle social isolation in our community.”
Men’s Sheds, a concept that originated in Australia, support the social, psychological and physical well-being of men. Derek Keiller, chair of Carse of Gowrie Men’s Shed and the Scottish Men’s Shed Association, says: “We are delighted to be associated with the Courier Kindness Campaign.
“We applaud The Courier’s initiative of highlighting loneliness and depression and welcome this opportunity to work with them to enhance people’s lives.
“Remember, a little kindness costs you next to nothing but it will mean a great deal to the recipient.”
So make it your good deed to look out for someone and help brighten their day. You never know – this simple gesture might lead to a whole new valued friendship for both of you.