Loneliness and isolation are top priorities for churches after lockdown

Loneliness and isolation are top priorities for churches after lockdown by Staff writer  for Christian Today

Churches emerging from lockdown are making it a priority to tackle loneliness and isolation, new research has found.

The survey by the Allchurches Trust found that these were the main areas of focus for two-thirds of UK churches.

Over half of the 638 church leaders surveyed from across the UK predict that loneliness and isolation will remain pressing issues for at least a year after the end of lockdown.

After loneliness and isolation, the second most common area of concern for church leaders was mental health.

But the survey also revealed that many churches have learnt lessons from the pandemic and are making significant changes to how they engage with their congregations and communities.

Sixty percent of churches said they were planning to introduce initiatives to tackle loneliness and isolation in older people, while one in five (21%) said they would do this for younger people.

Over two-thirds of churches (70%) are planning more online worship, while just over a third (35%) are introducing more online activities, and a quarter are facilitating additional online support groups.  A fifth of churches said they plan to offer digital training for older members of their congregation.

The findings have been released to coincide with the launch of the charity’s new grant programme, Hope Beyond, which opens for applications today.

Dr Sue Protheroe, Clinical Mental Health Lead for Lincolnshire West, said: “The detrimental effects [of Covid-19] on mental health can be identified in all ages.

“The Royal College of Psychiatrists have reported not only an increase in referrals but a significant increase in the severity of mental illness being referred for the first time.

“Our mental health services were already stretched before the pandemic and struggling to meet demand.”

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