There are loads of reasons to love living in a rural area: you are close to nature, you are away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and you have a whole lot of space to yourself. But sometimes you might also feel like you have a little too much space. Living in an isolated area can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness. How then to overcome it?
Loneliness, an epidemic in times of pandemic
Loneliness is often described as an epidemic. Combined with a pandemic like the coronavirus, it’s no surprise that containment and social distancing have made millions of us feel isolated. Faced with the health crisis we are going through and the various lockdowns, it is likely that most of us will again be faced with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Social isolation is a really important and growing problem in rural areas like remote villages or the countryside. In the remote villages of the city, there aren’t as many meeting places for people. There is also a culture of pride in doing things for oneself in rural areas, which makes it difficult for people to admit that they feel cut off from the world.
When physical distancing prevents social interaction, the isolation can turn into loneliness. We then face a “silent epidemic”. It can be as bad for your health as smoking and obesity, increasing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke in people aged 50 and over. Loneliness is thus closely linked to dementia and poor mental health.
1000 cafes, a solidarity initiative suspended by containment measures
The feeling of loneliness is part of the human experience. We all experience it at one point or another in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to manage. This is especially true in rural areas where feelings of isolation can be exacerbated by great physical distances, reduced possibilities for socialization and – especially in confinement situations – limited internet connectivity.
Rural life can be very lonely if you don’t live in a tight-knit community. Villages need places where people can go for company, information and advice.
Following this problem, some have decided to act. This is particularly the case with Groupe SOS, the leading social enterprise in Europe. For more than 35 years, this non-profit association has fought against all forms of exclusion and isolation is part of it.
In September 2019, Groupe SOS launched the 1000 cafes project. The latter aims to revitalize the economy and social dynamics of rural communities by creating or taking over 1000 cafes in France. In close collaboration with the mayors, the cafes will then become places of meeting and conviviality. Many small local services will be offered there: bread deposit, mail or postal package, cultural activities … You can find out more about the 1000 cafes and GROUPE SOS project on their website: https://www.1000cafes.org / sos-group /