Guest blog for Village Halls Week by Ryan Hodson, Lincolnshire Co-op Community Coordinator
by Felicity Humphrey,

Loneliness is a feeling that’s hard to pin down. For some people it appears suddenly and for others it’s a sadness that’s difficult to escape, such as living alone.

What’s very clear is that it affects many people. In fact, Age UK estimates that 1.9 million older people in the UK often feel ignored or invisible.

It’s also more than a feeling. Loneliness can be as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day, the charity says.

It was the only time that week he’d socialised with anyone.

Colleagues in our outlets tell us how a chat helps customers they know may be lonely. So together at Lincolnshire Co-op, we used our ideas, energy and resources to tackle the issue and asked charity Community Lincs to help us pilot a scheme in six areas.

Our vision was simple - to create drop-in events where people could chat over a cuppa and connect with support from local groups. And where better to hold each Community Cuppa than the spaces that are the backbone of each community?

Community Cuppa launched last spring and venues included village halls, church halls, community centres and a cricket club pavilion.

One gentleman said it was the only time that week he’d socialised with anyone. Two women became friends and swapped numbers. Another lady couldn’t attend until we put her in touch with dial-a-ride, a service she now uses.

We hope to help more people just like this through the scheme, and spaces such as village halls are key. They’re easy to find and just the place for a warm welcome.

Guest blog for Village Halls Week by Ryan Hodson, Lincolnshire Co-op Community Coordinator