Loneliness Awareness Week: “Food is a wonderful way to bring us together”

Amy Perrin, 39, is the founder of Marmalade Trust, a charity that raises awareness of loneliness in society and helps people to find new friendships. Marmalade Trust is running Loneliness Awareness Week from 18-22nd June.

Amy, the founder of Marmalade Trust

Food is a wonderful way to bring people together. I started the Marmalade Christmas Day Lunch in 2013. I realised through my work as an occupational therapist just how many older people spent Christmas Day completely on their own. The first year we had 18 guests, now we’ve grown to welcome almost 300 people.

The act of sitting around a table with others and enjoying delicious, warm food makes people feel part of something. Food is a great connector; it’s a powerful way to Be More Us.

Loneliness isn’t just something that affects older people

Loneliness isn’t just something that affects older people. Anyone can feel lonely at any stage in their life. I experienced a really lonely period when I moved to a new city and I was living far away from loved ones and friends.

When I finished work on a Friday, I knew the next time I probably would speak to somebody was when I went back to work on the Monday morning. It wasn’t a nice feeling – but my own loneliness did eventually push me to be more proactive in getting out and about in my local community. It’s one of the reasons that inspired Marmalade: there’s nothing wrong with saying that you feel lonely. The Marmalade Trust wants to break down the stigma of loneliness.

This month we are running our second Loneliness Awareness Week (LAW): the first of its kind in the UK. Last year’s LAW was a huge success and reached over 750,000 people. This year looks set to be even bigger, with people organising all kinds of events, from wellbeing choirs and bake-offs to dog walks and a silent disco in a care home.

Baking brings us together

The focus of this year’s campaign is around baking. We have created our very own Marmalade ‘Connection Cake’, a delicious recipe that has been devised by the brilliant Hart’s Bakery in Bristol. The success of The Great British Bake Off has proved just how much people love to bake.

There is such a feel-good element around cakes and homemade food. Making a cake for someone else or to share with others is a lovely and thoughtful gesture.  It’s a brilliant way to make a small moment of connection happen and anyone can do it.

Small, heartwarming things that can really bring us together. I think in today’s society we have forgotten to appreciate simple things and acts of kindness. One of the best things for me over the years has been seeing people of all ages coming together to eat at one of our events: food really does bring people together. Let them eat cake!

Take part in Loneliness Awareness Week by visiting Marmalade Trust’s website.

Download the recipe for the Marmalade Connector Cake. 

#LetsTalkLoneliness #MakeFriendsWithMarmalade #ConnectionCake