Stephen Hammersley

It’s widely recognised that older people are at risk of feeling lonely, due to bereavement or a lack of outside contact. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone while, according to Age UK, for two fifths of the older generation (almost 4 millon people), the television is their main company.

As more and more older people live at home, this loneliness epidemic will be concentrated in our communities on the doorsteps of churches.  Loneliness damages physical and mental health: it can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; it is more damaging than obesity; and increases the risk of developing a disability. Those who are lonely can have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia.

Churches are uniquely placed to support the lonely people in our communities. Their local presence and existing community life make churches a welcoming place for people of all ages and stages of life.   But loneliness is a complex issue and is related to the perceived quality of relationships as well as the quantity and some approaches are more effective than others .

The Bible talks of people as being designed to be part of God's family and we plan to raise funds to inspire and equip churches to bring this good news to people through the work of Pilgrims Friend Society and a new initiative we are part of called "Faith in Later Life". 

Our key event is a sponsored bike ride by our CEO, Stephen Hammersley and his son Philip who plan to complete a cycle tour visiting every Pilgrim Home in the UK.

Stephen Hammersley