A reporter's life: The Harrogate Advertiser's Ending Loneliness campaign

Harrogate Easier Living Project volunteer Jane Lishman and Florence Povey.
Harrogate Easier Living Project volunteer Jane Lishman and Florence Povey.

Trainee reporter Finola Fitzpatrick has joined the Harrogate Advertiser Series and writes a weekly column.

It is truly an honour to be leading the Harrogate Advertiser’s Ending Loneliness campaign, and we have been overwhelmed by the response since its launch three weeks ago.

I say that it is an honour to be working on the campaign, because every day I feel enormously inspired by the generosity and kindness of our district.

A number of readers have come forward and enquired about volunteering for a charity supporting elderly people, and many have shared their ideas about how to combat loneliness.

It is hugely important to us that we raise awareness of the issue, but we also care enormously about making a tangible difference. It is great to hear that some of our readers who are feeling lonely have been in touch with local charities after reading the campaign features.

Something that really comes across when having conversations with our supporter charities and organisations, is that loneliness is a feeling people can find difficult to talk about, and telling someone that you are lonely is often the most difficult step.

This is the first time I have worked on a newspaper campaign, and I am learning new things every week, but I really hope that the campaign will show people that loneliness can affect us all, and it is important that we talk about it.

What I find really exciting about the campaign is when we publish a call to action for readers each week. I never quite know what will happen as a result, and it is fantastic when people really respond to them and call me to share their thoughts.

In last week’s feature we published a letter from a reader suggesting that churches hold friendship groups for the elderly. The letter was in direct response to the previous week’s call to action to get in touch with ideas about how to alleviate loneliness.

We then invited churches who run friendship groups or lunch clubs to get in touch with us to share what they do, and a number of churches responded.

There is an abundance of community spirit in the Harrogate district, and it is a real thrill to be able to use the campaign to showcase it and channel it into ending loneliness.

There most definitely has been a snowball effect with our campaign, and I am extremely looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming weeks. Thank you to everyone who has supported it so far, it means so much.

This week’s call to action is for readers to contact us with a message for anyone who is feeling lonely - either sharing some advice or offering some positive words.

I adore hearing from readers, and I am keen to encourage anyone who has any thoughts on the campaign to get in touch: perhaps you would like to respond to the call to action or have an idea about how to tackle loneliness; maybe you are someone who is feeling lonely and would like some support from one of the charities backing our campaign, or perhaps you have a suggestion for a campaign feature.

Sometimes it is the smallest of ideas that can lead to the biggest of impacts, as last week’s feature on Oatlands Community Group shows. I would love to hear from you. Email me: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk or call 01423 707505.