FAITH on Saturday
SIAN GRIFFITH is a community fundraiser for Nottingham Hospitals Charity and a member of Reach Nottingham Church
THIS week the much-loved programme Old People’s Home For 4- Year-olds returned to our screens, set in Nottingham! Pre-schoolers went to nursery school in a retirement village with some of the residents. The programme highlights the effect that isolation has on elderly people’s physical and mental health. Last year, they showed the positive impact that the company of some very lively 4-year-olds had on the residents’ health.
Experts on the programme state that older people can feel “lonely in a crowd”.
This is sadly true for people of all ages, in all walks of life.
This week we’ve also celebrated Mental Health Awareness Day. Mind UK says that 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from a mental health problem each year. The Mental Health Foundation tells us that suicide is the leading cause of death in 20–34 year olds.
These are devastating statistics, it’s something we need to talk about.
Christians believe that there is no illness that is beyond the healing of God - mental health problems included. This is something I’ve experienced in my own life after battling anxiety, depression and eating disorders for years, and now experiencing freedom. I’m thankful that because of my extended church family and relationship with God, I never have to feel alone in any suffering again. I’m surrounded by love and strength whether at church, at home, or at work.
Mental health problems are not simple and can’t all be solved in one way. They’re not all linked to loneliness; but we can’t deny that isolation can have a significant impact on people’s health.
But there is hope. The Bible tells us that “God sets the lonely in families”.
What’s loneliness got to do with families? Well, I’m not really talking about biological families... There are many opportunities for us to share this kind of love and adopt people into our families as God adopts us into his. We need to embrace the broken hearted, seek out the lonely, make time for those in pain no matter what their story is.
Nottingham City Council and local churches are doing just this by launching a ‘100 Homes’ Campaign to recruit 100 foster homes in the next 3 years, to cater for the immense need in the foster care system. Extending your family might look like this, or it might just be inviting someone round for a cup of tea.
How can you take an interest in the lives of those around you? Is it listening to them share how they’re really feeling, or showing practical kindness to someone? We can all do something to reach out and show love to others.