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Building Friendships and Tackling Loneliness

Emma Naef, Community Engagement Manager, writes about our Compassionate Neighbours project and our Compassionate Cafes and how they fits in with being part of a Compassionate City.

In 2015, Dr. Alan Kellehear from the University of Bradford released the Compassionate City Charter. It listed 13 social changes to lead communities towards being a Compassionate City. These included things such as schools and workplaces adopting guidance and policies around death, dying and loss, museums and art galleries holding exhibitions around ageing, death, dying and loss, and commitment from local government and media to support the initiative.

This charter was in response to research and experience showing that people who are living with a life-limiting illness, their carers and bereaved people were more likely to become isolated from wider society, leading to a range of further emotional and physical problems linked with loneliness. It stated that although healthcare institutions have an important role in caring for people effected by death, dying and loss, care for these people is really everyone’s responsibility. Crucially, it set out to remind readers that these people are still active members of their community with skills, interests and opinions to contribute. Through the creation of a Compassionate City, local people would have the skills, support and confidence to support one another through times of crisis.

At Peace Hospice Care, we are excited about the role we play in developing our Compassionate Community. Currently we run a monthly Compassionate Cafe at The Kitchen, Croxley – a drop-in morning which provides a space for members of our community who have been affected by any type of loss.

We also run our Compassionate Neighbours project, aimed at reducing loneliness and social isolation – trained volunteers are matched with community members provide social and emotional support to local Community Members living with life-limiting conditions or experiencing bereavement in South West Hertfordshire, offering a listening ear and a friend.

John is one of our Compassionate Neighbours. He regularly visits his community member Malcolm, who has dementia. Last week they visited the park to spend time with Koby, a dog John looks after.

John said: “Malcolm ran around the field like he didn’t have a care in the world…his dignity restored. Dogs understand and help – a simple run round the park having fun with a dog has enormous beneficial effects and can be very relaxing. The owner of the Koby the dog gets enormous pleasure knowing how her pet helps out in the Hospice too!”.


Find out more about how our Compassionate Neighbours service can help you or someone you love by emailing Fiona at:, or on 01923 330 330.