West Ham archdeacon Elwin Cockett wants everyone to help stop the suffering of loneliness

PUBLISHED: 10:27 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:27 13 April 2016


Do you remember Buzby? Back in the 1970s he was a big yellow bird who used to encourage us in adverts to “make someone happy with a phone call”. Forty years later, there are still lots of people who could do with that kind of phone call.

Doctors tell us that there is an epidemic of loneliness, with serious health implications. Even here, in one of the most densely-populated parts of Britain, there are all too many people who are suffering desperately. Stuck behind closed doors, never talking to another human being from day to day, they know what it is to feel isolated and excluded.

Ever since God said “it is not good for man to be alone”, we have known that loneliness is unhealthy. It is said to be as bad for you as smoking or taking no exercise.

And it might be one reason why, as some studies in America have suggested, people who take part in organised religion every week tend to live longer than those who don’t.

If you’re lonely, it might be that there are steps that you can take. Now that spring is here, a walk in the park can be the opportunity to encounter people. Taking up an activity that involves others, like going to church, joining a choir, or playing sport, can be an answer. And if you’re able to do so, simply making the decision to get out there can be the first step to new friendships.

But what about those who can’t do that – the elderly, the housebound, the ill and those who face other barriers to engaging with others?

That’s where you and I come in. Because you can be sure that there are people in your street, and in your workplace or even your local, who could really do with someone to talk to or even just a kind word.

And it might be that you’re just the right person to break the cycle of loneliness. So let me encourage you to do what you can.

As Buzby said: “Make someone happy…” More from Elwin

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