I love people watching. Busy places are the best – South Bank, Borough Market, Clapham Junction station. I’m always amazed at how few collisions there are with so many eyes focused on screens. Sometimes I feel we’re more comfortable connecting through a screen (often with hundreds of anonymous followers) than to the people and places right in front of us.
Having spent the summer abroad working alongside displaced people in Europe, I was mesmerised by the beauty of basic human connections. Even amidst unimaginable suffering, simple acts of kindness were so powerful, and managed to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs. I was reminded how liberating it is to be open to the world around us. And I didn’t want hectic London life to let me forget!
That’s why when I had the opportunity to work with South London Cares again this year, I grabbed it with both hands! Through our Winter Wellbeing project, I’ll be lucky enough to get to know hundreds of my older neighbours. I’m so excited to get back out into the community this winter, striking up conversations with strangers, never knowing where it could lead, or what I might learn.
Whilst the project aims to support our older neighbours to stay warm, active, healthy and connected this winter, we can each play our part all year round. Isolation is common amongst many of our older neighbours, especially as “17% of people over the age of 65 now see friends and family less than once a week”. This reduced contact also means people may miss out on that little bit of support that could make all the difference.
So, let’s be that difference! We all have the power to reach out to those around us. Whether it’s sharing a hot meal with an older neighbour living alone, sharing an umbrella at the bus stop, or even just a smile – small acts can make people feel more visible and connected. And by all getting involved, we can be assured that somewhere, people just like us, are looking out for those we care about most.
Posted by Deepika Patel on Monday 8th October 2018
Deepika Patel is SLC's Outreach Officer. She previously volunteered at our social clubs while working as a pharmacist in Lambeth.