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What a small supermarket from Großenhain is doing to combat loneliness among seniors

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What a small supermarket from Großenhain is doing to combat loneliness among seniors

Loneliness has become a social problem

Yvonne Wilke from the Loneliness Competence Network knows how important small actions and offers of help against loneliness are. The network, funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, dealt with the implementation of the “Strategy against loneliness”. “Loneliness has become a significant social problem that needs to be taken seriously. In addition to the individual effects on health and emotional levels, loneliness also influences social interaction and the democratic structure,” explains the scientist MDR SACHSEN. The corona pandemic has significantly increased the burden of loneliness. “For many people, the feeling of loneliness has become chronic over the pandemic period. Most people like to be alone sometimes, but not chronically lonely.”

Analogue meetings against loneliness

Andreas Göbel from the meeting and advice center at the “Nuremberger Egg” of Volkssolidarität Dresden also knows the problem of loneliness. “We experience every day how important opportunities to meet people are, especially for older people. Meeting each other, pursuing common interests or taking responsibility for individual offers help to avoid loneliness,” he explains to MDR SACHSEN. “In social counseling we meet older people who live in seclusion. Sometimes we are their first or only contact persons. Here we increasingly experience how loneliness or social isolation affects everyday life.”

Self-help groups against loneliness

Michaela Natea founded several self-help groups to combat loneliness in Dresden. “I wanted to create a positive space where people living alone and lonely people meet,” explains Natea to MDR SACHSEN. There have already been groups, but they were all very “disease-heavy”. She wanted to found a group that was about positive shared experiences and the focus was on listening to each other. Natea can still remember it clearly. According to an advertisement in 2012, more than 60 people came to the first meeting. “The chairs and tables weren’t enough,” remembers the volunteer. “I never thought the demand would be so high.”

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People need to be picked up emotionally

For over twelve years she has been leading the groups that are affiliated with the Contact and Information Center for Self-Help Groups in Dresden (KISS) in Dresden. “The problem of loneliness is huge,” explains Natea. “When people go to the doctor or to demonstrations because they feel lonely, that has social consequences.” People are often left alone with their fears; more needs to be done. There are currently four groups and the waiting lists are long. However, no one should be discouraged by this; everyone has the opportunity to take the initiative and found a new group. Kiss Dresden is a great contact for this. “People need to be picked up emotionally,” says Natea. “It’s about talking, listening, being there for each other.”

When people go to the doctor or to demonstrations because they feel lonely, that has social consequences.

Michaela Natea leader of a self-help group

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