15 December 2017

With the launch of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission's Manifesto, our UK Delivery Manager Tracey Robbins explains how loneliness not only harms ourselves but also our communities and challenges us all to make 2018 a year of community connection. 

Tracey Robbins.

Tracey Robbins at an Eden Community Camp. 

Eden Project Communities exists to connect people with each other and the living world. We understand our dependence on the living world and, in particular, our dependence on each other. We know that human connection is key to more resilient and better-connected communities.

Over the past year, we have been proud to be one of the 13 partners of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, set up in summer 2016 to shine a light on those who are lonely in our communities. Through the Commission, we have demonstrated our passion for human connection and have been encouraging others to join us and work together to address the complex issues of loneliness.

Through the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission Manifesto, we are calling upon Government, council leaders, the public sector, business leaders and employers to join us in taking action to reduce loneliness: there is much they can do.

Loneliness does not just harm our physical and mental health but also harms our communities. As people become overwhelmed with problematic loneliness they withdraw from the community, their self-preservation instincts increase and their preservation of the species instincts reduce. In other words, they lose empathy with others and become trapped in a circle of mistrust and disconnection and we lose that person as an asset to our community.

We know that people involved in community activity stay connected, so we need to reach out and work hard to keep people active within in our communities. We need to find more reasons and opportunities, like The Big Lunch, to knock on our neighbour's door, to look for places and spaces to make connections with each other, in order to lay the foundations of new friendships and relationships that help to sustain us.

Last June, over 9.3 million people sat down with their neighbours as part of our flagship community event, The Big Lunch. Behind the cupcakes and the bunting of the day is a movement that is facilitating and building community connection on a mass scale. After The Big Lunch, 65% of organisers go on to do more in their community, 89% immediately felt closer to their neighbours and 90% met new people.

Building from these experiences we have developed a broader and deeper community exchange that allows people to work together to transform communities across the UK.  We have an active network of people working at a grass-roots level, in the heart of communities, driving real change and addressing one of the many challenging issues of today: loneliness. We know that anyone at any age can be lonely, but we also know that anyone at any age can help reduce lonelinesstheir own or that of others.

Loneliness is not just for Christmas or later life. It can affect us all, at any age, at any time of the year, and often take us by surprise. In caring for others and, most importantly, yourself, you can join us in creating connection-friendly communities. Loneliness is a human condition and needs a human response, so as we head into 2018 join us and let's make this a year of community connection.

...people involved in community activity stay connected.