(Photo: Unsplash/Kamila Maciejewska)
Christian charity Linking Lives UK is challenging people to spend 24 hours without human contact, including via social media, in support of people struggling with loneliness.
The ‘Loneliness Lock-in’ is being launched today as an opportunity for people to gain an understanding of the day to day life for people who live with loneliness.
Linking Lives wants to raise awareness of the reality of loneliness and social isolation in Britain today, with a particular focus on individual Christians and churches.
Recent figures have revealed the scale of the problem, with Age UK reporting that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK. It reported recently that half a million older people in the UK go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to another human being.
Disabled charity Sense estimates that around half of all disabled people feel lonely every day, while a joint study from the Co-op and the British Red Cross said that over nine million people in the UK of all ages said that they feel always or often lonely.
Data from Action for Children reveals that it is a significant problem among young people, with 43% of the people they worked with between the ages of 17 and 25 saying they struggled with loneliness, and less than half of this age group saying that they felt loved.
Jeremy Sharpe, National Director of Linking Lives UK, said: “As a national Christian charity, we believe that it is important for us to both make people aware of the issues surrounding those people struggling with loneliness, with a particular focus on individual Christians and churches.
“The challenge encourages people to make time and space to spend time alone, with no access to other people, telephones, gadgets or wifi.
“As part of the process, we expect that participants will acknowledge the experiences of those who live on their own and find it a daily challenge.”
Linking Lives UK works with churches and Christian organisations across the country and currently runs 30 befriending projects to provide friendship and support to people who might otherwise have no contact with others during the week.
The challenge is only open to people who are aged 18 or over and who do not have any conditions that could affect their health and wellbeing by being in isolation for 24 hours.
“We are encouraging people to try out new activities which they may not have taken part in such as artwork or jigsaw puzzles, or they could read a book of the Bible, pray write some letters. Whilst being a challenge, we hope that it can also be an uplifting and inspiring activity,” said Sharpe.
“To take part in the challenge, participants need to be aged 18 or over and will not be able to engage with it if there are any conditions which could affect their health and wellbeing.”