Today starts the Week against Loneliness: every small gesture can make a difference | news item

News item | 30-09-2021 | 9:00 am

1 in 10 adults in the Netherlands feels very lonely and 1 in 3 sometimes suffers from it. More than half of the over-75s struggle with loneliness . Together we can do something about this. That is why the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is starting the Week against Loneliness. Minister Hugo de Jonge opens the Week against Loneliness today during a national opening event. Until October 7, there are hundreds of activities across the country to bring people together.

Now that the corona measures have been relaxed, it is easier to take action again and to connect with others. However, this does not mean that people no longer feel lonely. People often don’t talk about it. And that is necessary, says Anja Machielse professor at the University of Humanistics and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee One against loneliness.

Anja Machielse: “Due to the lockdown, we had less trouble talking about feelings of loneliness. After all, it happened to all of us. That’s different now that we go back to work, birthdays and the sports club. The threshold is now inadvertently raised again to say that you are feeling lonely. We quickly think: ‘there must be something wrong with me’, when that is not the case. Loneliness can happen to all of us. And the first step to do something about it is to discuss it.”

Initiatives across the country

The Week against Loneliness will be opened today by Minister Hugo de Jonge during the opening event in the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam.

Minister De Jonge: “Nobody can solve the loneliness. But everyone can do something to break the loneliness of another. I find it heartwarming and hopeful to see that so many people are committed to making the Week against Loneliness a success. Great initiatives are emerging all over the country. From a special gala for the elderly and their grandchildren, listening actions at stations to mobile living rooms in neighborhoods to have a chat.”

During the Week against Loneliness, there are activities throughout the country where people can meet and make new contacts. These activities are organized by social organisations, care and welfare institutions, municipalities, companies and volunteers. A selection of the activities can be found on the website of Eentegeneengedrag.

Business

Companies are also involved. Such as Jumbo Supermarkets, which opens special chat counters for people who like to have a chat during checkout. A number of companies from the National Coalition against Loneliness – Jumbo, KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds, Lipton, Maggi, PostNL and Vattenfall Foundation – have started KleinGebaar. This is a new platform for organizations and companies that have an eye for people who can use a helping hand and want to do something extra for them.

small gesture

Everyone can participate and contribute to the Week against Loneliness. For example, by paying extra attention to someone in their own environment. For example, a cup of tea with a neighbor or a visit to an aunt can make all the difference. Neelie Kroes, as the driving force behind the One against loneliness action programme, is committed to reducing loneliness:

Neelie Kroes: “Together we can do something against loneliness. By simply not looking away when you suspect someone is feeling alone. Come over and have a chat.”

Action program

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is organizing the Week against Loneliness as part of the One against loneliness action program. With One against loneliness, the government wants to break the trend of loneliness among the elderly in the Netherlands by identifying loneliness earlier and making it a topic for discussion. This action program has been in existence since 2018 and since then 255 municipalities and 165 national organisations, companies and institutions have joined.

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