Church serves meals to help tackle Norfolk’s growing loneliness problem
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
The number of people feeling like they are alone with no-one to turn to is causing growing concern in the county.
With fears that loneliness can lead to longer-term health problems, St Thomas of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church in Wymondham held its first lunch for people living alone who may benefit from a meal in the company of others.
Guests were collected by volunteers from Wymondham Lions and Wymondham Town Team, with nearly 60 people served meat and vegetables by members of the Catholic Women's League, followed by a fitting pancake pudding.
The EDP supported the event by giving away copies of the newspaper.
Event co-ordinator Arnie McConnell said: 'It is a challenge reaching those who are most hidden.
'We want to engage with people from all faiths and none who could benefit from warm meals in a warm place. Many of the people here were referred by their GPs, who feel that their overall health could benefit from this sort of social engagement. Loneliness can affect anyone. Some people are rich in a financial sense but are living in poverty in terms of their quality of life.'
The inaugural community kitchen was held in the parish hall but in future services will be held in the narthex of the church, where a £20,000 dedicated space is expected to be completed in the coming months.
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Eileen Goreham, a 71-year-old guest from Long Stratton, said: 'It's very easy to get stuck in a rut and immerse yourself inwardly. Since my divorce I have been saying yes to every invitation, because it's a two-way street, you can't just expect everybody to come to you.'
Many guests said they were not lonely, despite living alone, while others said they dreaded going home in the evenings.
Patricia Sayer, 84, from Attleborough said: 'I think lots of people may be happy for now but don't realise that they might feel differently once they're older. I lost my husband and I wanted to get back out and about but my body didn't want to.'
To find out more, contact Arnie McConnell on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01953 603104.