“Combatting Loneliness”: Bath Interfaith meets the Mayor

Hazel Mitchell writes:

Combatting loneliness: this was the title of the meeting to which the Bath Interfaith Group were invited by the Mayor, Cllr Mrs Manda Rigby on 9 September. Traditionally this annual  event is held in the Mayor’s parlour but circumstances this year made Zooming both necessary and an opportunity for more people to attend.

Bath Quakers were very  well represented with about eight  Friends. Each faith group had five minutes to give thoughts on this challenging topic, and we heard from the Jewish, Hindu, RC Christian, Muslim, Baha’i representatives. I spoke for Friends.

The Bath Interfaith Group has been working across the city to promote peace, cooperation and mutual respect among religious groups for 30 years.

In March last year an Area Meeting workshop on this topic demonstrated the responsibility within Meeting to be aware of the ways in which people could be vulnerable to  loneliness, often leading to poor mental health and social isolation. I named several ways in which people could find themselves lonely, including the very real isolating effects of poor hearing which the workshop had explored. Not forgetting our central activity of worship and ministering in Meeting, Advices and Queries 13 reminds us to “speak audibly and distinctly with sensitivity to the needs of others”.

We can all offer our listening skills to reach out to those combatting loneliness.

The meeting ended with some beautiful words from the Baha’i representative, Ruhi Farmer. Concluding words were from the Mayor, who spoke with warmth and compassion, leaving us with a piece of work which was to suggest ideas on what would be the first and most important thing she could do as Mayor next year!

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