The Point

The Point: A Community Cure


John Stonestreet

We have the cure.

This particular disease can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and even suicide. The disease is loneliness. The cure, as an article in the Independent claims, “is a newfangled intervention called ‘community.’”

A doctor in the English mill town Frome noticed years ago that many of her patients “seemed defeated” and isolated. So working with the town council she created a directory of community groups to connect people with similar issues, involving them in clubs and choirs, finding out what needs they had, like debt or housing problems.

The result? Over a three-year period, Frome’s emergency room visits dropped 17 percent, while those in a surrounding county jumped 29 percent. This jibes with another study that revealed that people with strong social connections were 50 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t have those connections.

Church, let’s bring in the lonely; let’s foster community. We might be saving a life and a soul at the same time.

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