FAITH on Satur­day

Nottingham Post - - OPINION -

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.

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