Brighton’s Big Roast: community comes together to help tackle loneliness
Yesterday (April 8th) at Brighton Youth Centre (BYC) Russell Tisbury, chef from renowned pub Ladies Mile, cooked a free roast for around 60 people in a push to tackle loneliness in Brighton. Ladies Mile is well-known and extremely well-reviewed by residents all over Brighton and this lovely event gave an opportunity to give company to those who have no-one else to spend their Sunday lunch with. Loneliness isn’t classed as a mental health problem but the mental health charity Mind have recognised the effect that it can have on those who suffer from it and also recognise that loneliness can be a symptomatic issue that comes from mental health problems. Over 50% of people over the age of 75 live on their own and a further 11% of older people are only in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a month. A somewhat heartbreaking statistic shows that 2/5 of older people, 3.9 million, say that their television is their main company. Loneliness is a much larger issue than just being on your own and research has shown that lacking social connections can put a person at as much of a risk of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. These are just some of the reasons ‘Brighton’s Big Roast’ was put on.
This event was inspired by the story of elderly Brighton woman Pat O’Byrne, whose post went viral when she told people in a Brighton Facebook group, ‘Brighton Sunday Roast Club’, that she was looking for a Sunday roast dinner partner. She told The Argus “I felt lonely, and after I posted on Facebook, it just went viral and I was receiving messages from people even in Japan…There are so many people who are on their own who haven’t got anyone and are lonely, but would love a roast dinner. I just feel it would be lovely if this carries on to try to help”. Members of the Facebook group were the main drive behind the event happening and it definitely could not have happened without the huge amount of volunteers that helped out all afternoon and in the weeks before. The event was sponsored by the building developer First Base who are behind the nearby development of the Amex House site. The bosses at the company were touched by Pat’s story.
The leftover roasts were given to ‘Tea and Hope’ a charity helping Hove’s homeless feel less invisible through a daily breakfast and food run. They offer tea, food, essential supplies and a sympathetic ear to those in need and yesterday the people they help were also treated to mushroom pies, pots of roast potatoes, beef doorstep sandwiches and roast chicken salad.
Keep an eye out for future events and with a growing number of lonely people in Brighton and the UK, it’s always worth having a chat to people you meet because you never know who’s lonely. We will definitely be reporting in advance if this kind of event happens again. It’s a testament to the community spirit that makes Brighton the wonderfully unique city that it is.