I've just been listening, in a desultory, day-off sort of way, to Women's Hour, where they were having a phone- in on loneliness. Nothing too startling there, perhaps, with all those familiar statistics telling us that more people now live alone than ever before. All sorts of perspectives were represented, with a groundswell of opinion that it wasn't always helpful to be offered companionship solely through networks of those in a similar position . Young mums were adamant that the toddler group wasn't always the answer, while pensioners lamented the narrow client-base of the groups offered to them. One lady suggested that the local council could promote situations in which people were able to encounter diverse ages and backgrounds, to offer mutual companionship and support.
'Sounds like the church', I thought to myself....but neither callers nor "experts" so much as hinted that this might be an issue that the church could engage with. Not even a nod in our direction. That hurt, really....and made me think, too, about how we square the circle of creating an inclusive community while embracing the insights about network society that are so much on the agenda for us. No conclusions, just sadness that we are so clearly missing the mark and failing to reach out even where there is a perceived need.