Residents and students heard about the devastating effects of loneliness among older people in the community when they got together for a tea party inspired by the work of the murdered MP Jo Cox.
Led by Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham, the Tea Party for Loneliness event took place at The Ecclesbourne School in Duffield last Friday and attracted more than 70 residents from across the village.
The event, which was held in conjunction with the Jo Cox Foundation and Silver Sundays, a programme launched in Westminster to tackle loneliness in older people, was held to highlight the loneliness epidemic in the UK and help residents find out about ways they can meet other people by getting involved in community activities.
Representatives from the Appletree Medical Practice, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, the Duffield Good Neighbour project and the Midlands Co-Operative spoke about local volunteering opportunities while students from the school gave a series of musical performances.
The school’s Sixth Form students served tea and coffee, while Year Nine student Cathryn Berg and Year Seven pupil Ellen Wilson recited their winning entries in a school poetry competition held on the theme of loneliness.
Figures released last year found that nine million adults in the UK said that they are often or always lonely, with 200,000 people reporting that they had not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
Ms Cox had set up a Parliamentary cross-party commission on loneliness before she was shot dead in 2016 and MPs from across the country, including Mrs Latham, are continuing her work.
Following the event, students from The Ecclesbourne School have been invited to perform at a local care home, a church luncheon party and the Women’s Institute.
James McNamara, head teacher at The Ecclesbourne School, in Wirksworth Road, said: “We were so pleased to be asked to host the event by Pauline Latham MP in conjunction with Silver Sundays and the Jo Cox Foundation.
“All our Sixth Formers undertake volunteering and run their own outreach community events and tea parties for the local elderly community. Loneliness is a real problem in today’s society and despite the incredibly connected way young people now operate via social media, it afflicts youngsters too.
“Being at the mercy of the dreaded ‘Fear of Missing Out’ can leave some feeling isolated, so there was real empathy on display. The event was such a lovely way to bring together talented and caring young people with their older neighbours.”