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“Meet Up Mondays” Gains Momentum

Following on from the successful delivery of several “Meet Up Mondays” across the
Braintree District, plans are afoot to introduce more venues across Essex in the
coming months, starting in Colchester, Maldon and Epping Forest. “Meet Up
Mondays” are already up and running across Suffolk, where they have been highly
successful at reducing social isolation and loneliness. Paul Tufnell, Senior
Commissioning Officer from the Adult Social Care – Early Intervention & Prevention
Team at Essex County Council, said: “Braintree District Council have picked up on
this scheme and done a fantastic job in rolling it out across their District. There is
definitely a lot of momentum and enthusiasm around this idea and we look forward
to seeing how it develops across the other Essex Districts”.

The purpose of “Meet Up Mondays” is to address isolation and loneliness. Once a
venue has been sourced and a regular time and day set (usually Monday, but it
doesn’t have to be), anyone is able to go along, completely free of charge.
Loneliness can be defined as “a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of
companionship” which occurs as a result of “a mismatch between the quantity and
quality of social relationships that we have, and those that we want” (Perlman and
Peplau, 1981). It is an increasingly prevalent issue facing today’s society, especially
with our aging population. One million people aged 65 and over say that they always
or often feel lonely. However, 92% of people find it difficult to admit to others that
they feel this way, with 80% feeling judged because of it and a third of people
thinking that there is something wrong with them. But it’s not just the older
generation – 13% of us feel lonely all of the time, and two-thirds of us know
someone who is lonely, often a close friend or relative.

As well as adversely affecting of mental wellbeing, loneliness is worse for our
physical health than we might think. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, it
is worse for us than being obese or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Furthermore,
lonely people are more likely to develop depression, dementia, and even heart
disease.

With those facts in mind, “Meet Up Mondays” is a relatively simple idea that has the
potential to make a significant, positive impact on large numbers of people. They are
arranged in local coffee bars, restaurants, pubs and cafes, which provides the safety
net of knowing that you can just drop in for as long as you wish, without having to
commit in advance, and everything is free of charge. Staff at the venues will provide
a warm welcome for those who might feel anxious on their first couple of visits.
The initiative is good for business too. Cafes, pubs and hotels, already valuable
assets within communities, provide a hub for people to meet socially. “Meet Up
Mondays” afford them the opportunity to show they care about their local
community and about ending loneliness, as well as enhancing their commercial
viability as they can showcase their premises.

The inspiration for “Meet Up Mondays” came originally from Mick Dore of The
Alexandra pub in London SW19, in January 2018, who decided to offer free tea,
coffee and sandwiches on a Monday lunchtime to entice those in the local area who
‘are fed up with their own company’. The initiative was picked up by Ann Osborn,
Director of the Rural Coffee Caravan in Suffolk, who spotted #MeetUpMondays on
Twitter and introduced it into her own loneliness prevention scheme. The concept
grew further when Ann met Sally Connick, Good Neighbour Scheme development
officer for Community Action Suffolk and there are now over 50 venues across
Suffolk.

Interested venues across Essex are strongly encouraged to sign up to “Meet Up
Mondays” and can do so by visiting www.MeetUpMondays.org.uk or by contacting
[email protected]

Reference: Campaign to End Loneliness – www.campaigntoendloneliness.org

Author: Steering Member
Posted:
Categories: News

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