Libraries help tackle loneliness in Norfolk over Christmas

10 December 2018

Libraries in Norfolk are inviting people to come along for free tea and a friendly chat at Just A Cuppa events across the county.

Just A Cuppa events provide company and the possibility of friendship, and are a low-key way to join a group of other people of all ages and genders, ideal for those out of the habit of socialising. Some libraries have jigsaws, puzzle books and newspapers at their sessions to help get people talking.

The events are part of Norfolk County Council’s In Good Company Campaign, which was set up in 2016 to make sure no one has a lonely day in Norfolk if they don’t want to.

Social interaction improves mental health, reduces isolation and supports vulnerable people within the community, enabling them to seek help and support and utilise help available to them across all services at Norfolk County Council.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Communities Committee, said: “It can sometimes be difficult for people to find opportunities to socialise but our Just A Cuppa events in libraries are an open invitation to everyone to come along and enjoy a ‘cuppa and a chat’ in a friendly environment.”

Just A Cuppa runs all year-round, and there will be some events across the holiday period. To see if there’s an event at your local library, check the Libraries page on the Norfolk County Council website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/libraries

Kathleen Ashington, Just A Cuppa volunteer at King’s Lynn library, said:

“My partner and I moved to King’s Lynn from West Yorkshire in December 2016. I am retired and I quickly began to feel lonely and isolated when my partner was working. I decided that I needed to get involved in something and make new friends. From a simple conversation with a member of the library staff I have never looked back. They explained to me that there was a Just A Cuppa group and I was welcome to stay and see if I liked it. Well may I say, I did stay, and I have looked forward to every Monday afternoon ever since. And my life is amazing, no more lonely evenings.

“All the staff at King’s Lynn library are always friendly, supportive, patient, helpful and professional at all times.

“I was invited to become a volunteer at the library which involves me preparing tea and coffee and welcoming new people that would like to join the group. The numbers have increased from 4 when I joined to 14 which means we must be doing something right. Most people in the group are living alone and always say what a difference it makes coming to the group and friendships have been formed.

“I think the benefits of volunteering is that I make a difference to someone’s life. I am no longer lonely and I also have a purpose in life now. When our Just A Cuppa group meets up we laugh together, support each other, and most importantly we care.”

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