Meetup.com is rapidly growing in popularity as a service that looks to connect like-minded individuals living in urban environments. I’m sure we are all aware of how lonely and isolated living within a city can feel. With so many people all around, finding someone with the time and inclination to stop and get to know you is difficult.
Loneliness in the UK is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience, and is a phenomenon paradoxically linked to higher population density. So although Brighton has been voted the ‘Happiest Place in the UK’, loneliness is still undeniably a problem lying under the surface of this vibrant and outgoing community.
Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.
- 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al, 2003)
- Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (ONS, 2010)
- Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014)
- 63% of adults aged 52 or over who have been widowed, and 51% of the same group who are separated or divorced report, feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
- 59% of adults aged over 52 who report poor health say they feel lonely some of the time or often, compared to 21% who say they are in excellent health (Beaumont, 2013)
- A higher percentage of women than men report feeling lonely some of the time or often (Beaumont, 2013)
Almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel, according to a survey carried out for the Jo Cox commision on loneliness.
The poll by Gransnet, the over-50s social networking site, also found that about seven in 10 (71%) respondents – average age 63 – said their close friends and family would be surprised or astonished to hear that they felt lonely.
Gransnet is one of nine organisations – including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Silver Line helpline for older people – working to address the issue of loneliness in older people, which is the current focus of the commission, set up by Cox before her murder last June.
They are urging individuals and businesses to look for signs of loneliness and refer people to organisations that can help. But they also want people to take time to speak to neighbours, family, old friends or those they encounter randomly.
Meetup’s are geared towards remedying this loneliness epidemic and filling the gap by providing events that individuals can coalesce around, informal meet-ups that give you the excuse to get out and get to know people who are also looking to meet new and interesting Brightonians.
The ‘City Three Peaks Ramble Challenge’ is one such example, a walking route through the city aimed at bringing neighbours together for a stroll and chat.
After the successful launch of the event, this urban ramble is back for a second instalment.
“In admiration to the legendary Three Peaks Challenge, this is one for the hills of Brighton and Hove, the route taking in some of the biggest inclines in Brighton and Hove – this year’s Challenge including the infamous Southover Street. We’ll walk this route at a steady pace and the walk itself should be around 2.5hrs, though we’ll stop off halfway and will end at a café too. Not a long route in miles (around 4.5 miles), the inclines more than make up for it.”
The walk takes place on Sunday the 15th, but if you’re interested in something sooner, Meetup.com has plenty to offer.
If you’re feeling a little down and disconnected then why not check out what this new service has to offer for you?