Love My Neighbour

Lead Officer of Faith in Later Life, Alexandra Drew, encourages us to make connections with our older neighbours this winter. They can be life saving.

Winter is on its way, and for some of us, with it comes thoughts of cosy times by the fire, sipping hot chocolate, making Christmas plans with the family, and enjoying bracing winter walks with friends.

For many older people, however, these shorter and darker days will be a time of increased loneliness as the cold prevents some from venturing out to their usual groups and activities.

This is understandable; travel confidence dips in the winter, and who wants to stand at the bus stop in the cold and rain, only to come back in the dark to a silent, empty home?

But winters can be long, and this loss of social connection and companionship can have serious consequences. It’s so bad for us that its impact on our health is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day, increasing the risk of premature death.

It gets worse in the winter months most years when loneliness is a key contributor to around 25,000-30,000 excess deaths, most of which are represented by older people.

We all have a God-given need for community, God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”, even God himself is a community of three. Loneliness and social isolation over a prolonged period are not His plans for anyone.

Love My Neighbour is a simple but potentially lifesaving and life-giving campaign to remind and encourage us all to intentionally connect with our older neighbours this winter, and it’s so easy!

It’s as simple as:

  • Praying for our neighbours
  • Popping by for a chat
  • Inviting our neighbours
  • Getting to know each other

For those who want to go further, we encourage you to introduce your older neighbours to church, where they can be fully known and embraced into a loving family well beyond these winter months.

And of course, we believe that a relationship with Jesus is the ultimate lifelong and eternal response to loneliness, and so we have a few ideas about helping older people gently explore faith.

You’ll find ideas and resources on the Faith in Later Life website and social media, and thanks to our friends at Embracing Age (who are also a Charity and Network in Association with Churches Together in England) we also have some ideas to help bring Love My Neighbour to care home residents.

Some of this will take us away from that cosy fireside idyll, but these are small sacrifices to help bring life to our older neighbours this winter, and they may yet bring us more life too.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

Whether you’re one person, a couple, a homegroup, a whole church, or even a group of churches working together, we hope you’ll join in with Love My Neighbour this winter to help shut this window of winter loneliness and open the door to connection, friendship, and God’s incredible love.

Faith in Later Life is a Charity and Network in Association with CTE.