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Isolation taking its toll on over festive period

For most of us the festive season is spent catching up with family and friends, enjoying good company and lots of food. However, for elderly members of our community this can be a particularly difficult time of year. 
It is a time when loneliness can carry a greater degree of meaning and isolation from the buzz of society becomes all the more apparent. This is a real issue here with a recent survey highlighting that over 60 percent of over 65’s often feel lonely. This is further impacted in that many community members feel unable to express feelings of loneliness as they ‘don’t want to cause worry’. 
Patricia Donald, Chairman of the South West Ageing Partnership remarked on how society has changed over the years. “When I was a child the bread van called and there was all sorts of people calling in, like the roving shop. None of this happens now, we’ve lost that connection.”
As society has evolved the level of personal interaction would appear to have declined, Ms Donald added that this made it all the more important to check in on isolated members of our community.
“Look out for those all around you, particularly if you live in a rural area and people are living up long lanes. Check on simple things like if the fire is lit and call in just to say hello. If there’s an older person on their own who won’t come and join you for a cup of coffee why not put a cup of coffee in a flask and go and have a chat with them.” 
Father Jimmy McPhillips, from Lisnaskea said that he had recently commented on loneliness at mass. “I read that 60 percent of those who live alone never have anyone to visit them so I was encouraging people to think about that and if there was anyone in their neighbourhood who had no family or anyone to visit them. People think nowadays that others want privacy, they don’t want privacy, people need community, in whatever form that is.”
Revd Henry Blair, Rector of Magheraculmoney Parish, Kesh added that the parish has tried to address loneliness in a positive way for a number of years. Some of the work to combat this included Christmas community outreach initiatives.  
“For the last couple of years a family from the parish have given up their Christmas morning to provide a Christmas lunch in the church hall. It’s planned again for this year and we’re currently gathering numbers of who will be able to come along. It’s nice that after the service on Christmas morning that there is this lunch and fellowship available for those who need it.” 
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