Diverse Voices – Loneliness


Mrs. Jenkins has lived in the East End of London all her life. Mrs. Jenkins had been living alone since her husband passed away several years ago. Her children and grandchildren lived far away, and she rarely saw them.

Mrs. Jenkins used to be a social butterfly, but as she got older and her friends passed away or moved away, she found herself feeling increasingly lonely and isolated. She tried to keep herself busy by reading books, watching TV, and tending to her garden, but it wasn’t enough. She longed for human connection and companionship.

At times, the loneliness and isolation became so overwhelming that Mrs. Jenkins described how the walls of her house felt like they were closing in on her and consuming her. She knew she had to take action before it was too late.

Mrs. Jenkins is not alone in her struggle with loneliness. In the UK, over 9 million people report feeling lonely on a regular basis, and elderly individuals are particularly affected. According to Age UK, over 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, with more than 1 million saying they often go over a month without speaking to a friend, family member, or neighbour. The negative effects of loneliness on mental and physical health are well-documented, including increased risk of depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has made things even more difficult for the elderly, especially those living alone. Mrs. Jenkins was extremely worried about the pandemic and unfortunately contracted the illness twice.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mrs. Jenkins also faced financial difficulties. Her house was deemed too big for her needs, and she was forced to pay the bedroom tax, which put a strain on her finances. She had to rely on the local food bank to get by, and her poverty was so extreme that she spent most nights riding buses just to stay warm.

Mrs. Jenkins’ story is unfortunately not unique. Many elderly people in the UK face similar struggles with loneliness, isolation, and financial difficulties, particularly during the pandemic. It’s important that we as a society work together to support and uplift our elderly population, to ensure that they are not forgotten or left behind. Initiatives like the Togetherness Cafe and befriending services, run by organisations like the Blossom Group ASA CIC, can make a real difference in the lives of elderly people like Mrs. Jenkins, providing them with companionship, support, and a sense of community.

What we teach and learn at Blossom is storytelling and how we helped Mrs Jenkins

The Ordinary World: Mrs. Jenkins’ life in the East End of London, living alone after her husband passed away, feeling increasingly lonely and isolated.

Call to Adventure: Mrs. Jenkins’ growing sense of loneliness and isolation, the feeling that the walls of her house were closing in on her and consuming her.

Refusal of the Call: Mrs. Jenkins may have initially refused to acknowledge the extent of her loneliness and isolation, or been hesitant to seek out help.

Meeting the Mentor: The kind lady who referred Mrs. Jenkins to Blossom, the community interest company that provided her with support and resources.

Crossing the Threshold: Mrs. Jenkins’ decision to reach out to Blossom and take the first step towards connecting with a supportive community.

Tests, Allies, Enemies: Mrs. Jenkins faced many tests in her journey, including contracting Covid-19 twice, financial difficulties due to the bedroom tax, and the ongoing challenge of coping with loneliness and isolation. Her allies included the kind lady who referred her to Blossom and the team at Blossom who provided her with companionship, support, and resources. Her enemies could be seen as the forces of isolation and despair that threatened to consume her.

Approach to the Inmost Cave: Mrs. Jenkins’ growing understanding of the extent of her loneliness and isolation, and her recognition of the need to take action to address these challenges.

Ordeal: The challenges Mrs. Jenkins faced, including Covid-19, financial difficulties, and ongoing loneliness and isolation, were all significant ordeals that she had to overcome.

Reward: Mrs. Jenkins’ reward was the companionship, support, and sense of community that she found through Blossom, as well as her growing sense of purpose and connection.

The Road Back: Mrs. Jenkins’ decision to continue to engage with Blossom and to pursue a life that was filled with purpose and connection.

Resurrection: Mrs. Jenkins’ experience of finding renewed purpose and connection, and her ability to overcome the challenges of loneliness and isolation.

Return with the Elixir: Mrs. Jenkins’ return to a life that was filled with purpose, connection, and companionship, and her ability to share her experience with others and inspire them to overcome their own challenges.