No One Need be Lonely
This article by Claire Baldry describes one woman’s successful effort to avoid loneliness in middle age and how it is rapidly growing into a national network.
Following her husband’s change of job, Julie Rossall moved from Lancashire to Bexhill in Sussex in 2011. She had been to the town before and liked its coastal character.
After the excitement of the settling-in process she very quickly started to feel lonely. She visited the library and looked out for Groups or Societies to join, but nothing really appealed. Julie then very courageously took action. She posted a message onto a local website, asking if any ladies would like to join her for coffee in a seafront cafe. She was pleasantly surprised when 11 other ladies turned up. The next week several of the group brought along a friend, husband or partner. This was the beginning of a thriving social group for the over 40s now called Chatterbex.
Three years later the group has over 70 members with six regular meet-ups throughout each week and lots of other events/activities (suggested by members). No longer just a social group, this has developed into a strong support network where friends help each other out and often skills are shared. There is no committee and no fees. No one in Chatterbex need ever be lonely.
Julie began to realise what a powerful model had evolved to avoid loneliness in old age. By establishing strong local friendships in middle age, members would be protected from isolation as they grew older. This was especially important at a time when families often lived far apart, and people tended to move away for work or economic reasons.
At the start of 2014, Julie set up a website called ‘Chattergroups’, and began to contact towns similar to Bexhill to offer support in setting up their own groups. This was not a profit making exercise, just Julie’s way of giving something back to society . There are now three established chattergroups in Sussex, each with over 40 members, and more interest is being expressed all the time. A chattergroup can be set up at no cost anywhere in the UK. It just needs someone to set it in motion with the support of the chattergroups network.
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