Square Works Charity Week: Supporting the Marmalade Trust
As part of Charity Week as hosted by Square Works, we are supporting Marmalade Trust. You can find out more about how to take part here.
We spoke to the Head of Operations at Marmalade Trust, Lucy Norris, to find out a bit more about what they do and why you should support them.
Marmalade Trust is the UK’s leading loneliness charity for all ages and the only charity in the world specifically dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness. I asked Lucy about their work and some of their upcoming projects.
Who experiences loneliness?
Lucy and Marmalade Trust work hard to assist people experiencing loneliness across all age groups. We spoke about how although loneliness is most commonly experienced by older people living alone, most people will experience loneliness at some point in their lives. Lucy makes the point that a lot of volunteers are those who have experienced loneliness themselves before.
What sort of barriers do people experience when seeking help?
There is a stigma attached to experiencing loneliness, and the first step in addressing the issue is talking about how you feel. Lucy talks about shame as a barrier to people seeking help, and how we are all different: there is no one way to address the problem! There is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, especially when most people will feel like this at some point in their lives. Milestones like starting out in a new place, retirement, heavy family responsibilities or lack of community can prompt loneliness in all sorts of people across society.
Digital exclusion is also a big barrier for many people who do not have access to smartphones or the internet. The large majority of community-based events that people may be interested in to address their loneliness are advertised online, which means they can easily pass people by.
A more physical barrier is transport: during the pandemic, many vital community transport links were cut, isolating those with no other option. The pandemic also affected people with disabilities who could not access the assistive technologies they require to get out and about. Marmalade Trust helps to work through these barriers, enabling people to access the help on offer within the community.
Christmas Cheer is a project where volunteers support people living alone during what can be the toughest time of the year. The project is unique in that volunteers support and engage with individuals experiencing loneliness in the lead-up to Christmas Day, as well as on the day itself. The process starts with doorstep visits and phone calls, and then on Christmas Day Marmalade Trust accommodates up to 220 people in local restaurants for a festive meal.
In the period between February and June, trained volunteers are matched with a person experiencing loneliness. The volunteer maintains contact with this person with phone calls and signposts events and classes that may interest them. Previous examples include ukulele classes and hot yoga!
Lucy explains that ultimately the purpose of projects like Christmas Cheer and Marmalade Companions is to build confidence and help people experiencing loneliness to get back out there.
How you can help
“Small things make the difference.”
Supporting community-orientated spaces that help to support people vulnerable to loneliness can be easy; using your local library keeps it open, or you could go to a local coffee morning at a community centre and meet someone new.
Ultimately, speaking to Lucy has only confirmed just how important the work that Marmalade Trust does.
Do you know anyone who will be alone this Christmas? Would you like to volunteer? Find out more on Marmalade Trust’s website.