Belonging aims to solve the loneliness of 2 million people in the UK
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To counter the effects of endemic isolation and loneliness felt by over 2 million people across the UK, a Christian charity has developed a simple yet effective church-based solution; creating communities of belonging.
Safe Families – with a decade of experience in offering hope and belonging to children, parents and families – aims to tackle loneliness by delivering the Belonging Course, a free, six-session programme that will create stronger communities and a develop a sense of true connection.
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that 1 in 20 adults feels lonely often or always – which equates to around 2 million people across the UK. But this is not just exclusive to adults, as a 2019 study from The Children’s Society noted that “any instance of feeling left out, or not having anyone to talk to, is likely to damage the strength of children’s relationships and potentially lower their overall well-being”.
Launching at the end of September, the Belonging Course will be delivered through local churches of all denominations, creating communities which provide safe and nurturing spaces for people of all ages to connect and belong. The course explores key elements of loneliness and how these can be overcome, and challenges participants to think about how they can build deep relationships with each other.
The Belonging Course is supported locally by Natalie Williams, Chief Executive of Hastings-based Jubilee Plus who said: “A sense of belonging can make all the difference in someone’s life. I know that first-hand. I am so grateful to the lovely Christians who made me feel not just welcomed in, but included as part of the family. So I’m delighted that Safe Families have put together the Belonging Course and it was a privilege to be involved. I know it will be an invaluable tool to churches big and small across the country who want people to know not only that they matter to the God who made them, but also that they matter to us and we need them.”
Kat Osborn, CEO of Safe Families, said: “We have been aware for some time of the loneliness crisis in the 50 local authority areas in which we work, and how families are desperate for help to support them as they overcome this problem.
“Using the learnings of our teams and volunteers in these areas, we have developed the Belonging Course to empower our church partners to bring people together and enable them to be seen, heard and understood – working through the course as a group to thrive, develop a sense of wellbeing, and eliminate the problem of being alone.”
Dr Roger Bretherton, Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Lincoln and contributor to the Belonging Course, commented: “It is well known that isolation and loneliness can cause physical as well as mental health issues, some of which can be life-limiting. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the Belonging Course in facilitating flourishing for individuals and communities through high quality positive connections.”
Christians all around the UK can benefit from taking the Belonging Course and understand further how building connections can help not just them, but also their neighbours and colleagues.
Church leaders of all denominations are invited to get involved and facilitate belonging among families in their area. Those leaders who are interested in offering the Belonging Course– or just want to find out more – should register their interest at https://belongingcourse.uk/