Loneliness is a killer.
Over three months of living alone in the Kingdom of Loneliness has made me more aware of the detrimental effects of loneliness on your health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, the U.K. now has a Minister for Loneliness. Theresa May recently published a report on loneliness: “A connected society: A strategy for tackling loneliness–laying the foundations for change” (October 15, 2018). May called loneliness a “great public healthcare challenge” and proposed to create GPs within NHS to refer patients to programs that help with loneliness.
Yesterday I visited an Edinburgh community cafe that has been around for 36 years and has helped to combat loneliness among older adults and those with mental health issues. The Open Door Cafe, located in the Morningside neighborhood of Edinburgh, is very welcoming. This place warmed my heart. It was a fantastic place from Hamish, a high school student volunteer who welcomed me and gave me a delicious cuppa and scone to the friendly regular customers/patrons who shared their stories. I hope that the Doorway Cafe can be opened in the University District. They have vital volunteers, and pay it forward model to ensure the place is sustainable. They also receive funding from the NHS.
It is also a warm memory to discover that Peggy Hunter, an Edinburgh nurse, 1982 started the Open Door Cafe. She stated, “I dreamed of turning loneliness into fellowship, isolation in recognition …” and she has achieved that dream.”
Their website statement is so beautiful. It describes the cafe’s commitment to diversity beautifully. Are you willing to open your mind and share space with someone different than you?