Social media reviving community spirit

SOCIAL MEDIA REVIVING THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT

“Community spirit has almost vanished in modern Britain with few people prepared to look out for their neighbours and 70% admitting they do not even know their neighbours names”[1] The most affected by  this lack of community spirit and change in family life are the elderly.

Older people are especially vunerable to loneliness and lack of social interaction and it can have a serious effect on their health. According to the NHS “100 000s of elderly people are lonely and cut off from society in this country, especially those over the age of 75”[2]

More than 2 million people living in the UK, over the age of 75, live alone and more than half of them, go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.

Thankfully social media, especially Facebook groups of towns and villages, are resurrecting community spirit. Locals are posting local news, gatherings and incidents relevant to their area on these pages, similar to the long lost grapevine, which has bought back a sense of belonging, a vital connection to the community.

I would like to urge local groups like WI and social clubs to challenge their members to make contact with all the elderly in their area. To ensure this contact is maintained and to encourage the elderly to interact and participate in local activities. These “contacts” can become intermediaries between social media and the elderly, many of whom are computer illiterate. It only takes five minutes to make a big difference to someone’s life.

I also urge schools (primary and secondary) to involve the elderly in their calendars. Invite them to dress rehearsals, send them poems, essays and art. Encourage pupils to become pen pals and write a weekly newsletter.

Look what the national lottery has done for our sporting heroes at the Olympics, lets revive our community spirit with a little kindness and effort.

 

[1] Community Spirit, Rob Cooper, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2067048/Community-spirit-disappe...

[2] Elderly isolation, NHS, 2013. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/women60-plus/Pages/Loneliness-in-older-people...