This Week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Parishes within the Southwark Diocese have long been places of welcome and connection. This week we will spotlight just a few of our parishes doing great work to combat social isolation, and say thank you for all they do to tackle loneliness and social isolation.

St Luke’s and St Marks, Downham

Revd Nick Walsh from St Luke’s and St Marks, Downham and Rosie Jones from Holy Trinity Clapham share a little bit about how they are tackling loneliness…

Loneliness is often described as a modern pandemic affecting all different ages, backgrounds and demographics. The impact of loneliness on people’s mental and physical health cannot be understated.

On the Downham estate in South- East London St Luke’s and St Mark’s are providing groups to address loneliness six days a week.

The Front Room Club, which runs at St Luke’s, and Welcome Club at St Mark’s are open on Monday through Friday and Sunday providing meals, activities, company, support services and volunteering opportunities. Staff are on hand to provide advice, run activities, and help people develop into the best version of themselves. We also have a Parish Nurse who provides health advice and advocacy, a physiotherapist, digital inclusion project, pop-up jumble sale, and trips out. There are lots of reasons why people might end up lonely, but when they come along to St Luke’s and St Mark’s there are opportunities to join in, make friends and be part of something.

One of our members says: “I live on my own and it gets very lonely, St Luke’s and St Mark’s give me somewhere to go where there is company. I’d rather come to the projects, even if on those days I just want to sit and do my crossword puzzles because there are people around to keep me company.”

More information on Front Room and Welcome Club can be found at or by emailing [email protected]

Holy Trinity Clapham (HTC)

At HTC we have been running a weekly Breakfast Club for around 100 – 120 members of our local community, with the aim for every guest to feel ‘fully known, fully loved and fully valued’. So often, those who are most isolated, and therefore lonely, in society, are some of the most vulnerable, be that due to mental health, social situations, addictions, learning difficulties, financial challenges or something else altogether. 

Our guests come from all walks of life, and carrying all these challenges amongst others, and Breakfast Club has provided an opportunity for connection and friendship, crossing barriers that otherwise might limit interactions. Over a free breakfast of boiled eggs (around 350 boiled each week!), toast, porridge and pastries, board games are played, the newspapers debated, and friendships built. It is difficult to say what led the number to grow so large, but when talking to many of our guests, especially those who visit other similar centres run secularly, the main theme that draws them back often links back to our aim. Guests talk about the importance of their name being known, and features of their life being remembered, genuine challenges being shared and prayed for, and authentic relationships being build. We have also seen guests grow in their care of those around them as they get to know one another week on week, be it showing the new person where to get a cuppa, or highlighting to a volunteer someone they are worried about. Of course, it is not always plain sailing! As some what of a melting pot of our community, we see everyone on their best and worst days, but this is where we have most seen God’s faithfulness and kindness. By God’s grace we have a safe, supportive environment where we can operate within boundaries keeping true to our aim of each person being known, loved and valued. The Lord has also been ever present, helping us navigate tricky relationships and witnessing that forgiveness and restoration is possible. Where loneliness can be crippling, our prayer is that we can bring people together in community to flourish, and to meet Jesus – the only one who can know, love and value us completely.

Similarly, HTC is aware that in London, those who are over 65 can often feel like an isolated minority. As a church, our vision is to see ‘Every life bearing fruit for Jesus’, from the youngest to the oldest! As the cost of living rises, we have been increasingly aware of anxieties growing amongst this community. As a way of lifting the load, providing some light-hearted distraction, and providing a free meal, we run a monthly afternoon tea. Here, guests can come, enjoy sandwiches and cakes as well as hear from a guest speaker, discuss the news of the day or life updates and stay and chat for a while. Through this time, groups of friends have been formed, other simple activities have spilled out (a ladies lunch and a group meet before joining our midweek communion) and people are often eagerly anticipating the next month’s event. Within this community, particularly for those who are less mobile or socially busy, having something in the diary to look forward to makes a big impact and we are seeing a very visible improvement in the mental wellbeing of some of those who attend. It has also been encouraging to journey though a series on our favourite hymns and their impact on us across our lives. Spending time in worship together, through the singing of these hymns, has been a very encouraging time and has helped some, who felt their days of church going or prayer were behind them, reconnect with God.

The Breakfast Club at Holy Trinity Clapham runs every Tuesday at 9.30am.

To hear more about Loneliness Awareness Week visit: