22 October 2015

At a time when technology is doing an incredible job of connecting people from across the globe, how is it that we can overlook the people in need on our doorstep?

Bill Palmer

Image from BBC Radio Solent Facebook

I ask this having spotted the story of 95-year-old Bill Palmer earlier today. Mr Palmer called into a BBC Radio Solent show about love later in life. Having married his wife Sheila after 30 years of friendship in 2014, Mr Palmer described his loneliness upon Mrs Palmer’s move into a nursing home, where she now lives.

It was a heart-breaking listen.

Community is used increasingly to describe online groups and networks, and I can’t help but fear that the original concept of community spirit is somewhat falling by the wayside. Imagine what a world we’d have if we kept the old communities values and combined them with this incredible technology!

The events following Mr Palmer’s call – which has been played more than 41,000 times on Facebook – give us a glimpse of this. The DJ invited Mr Palmer to the studio where he sat in on the rest of the programme, chatting to people who called in and enjoying a coffee and cake. He was also offered Sunday lunch and trips out. Since then social media has been flooded with offers of support, kind wishes and pledges to do more for older people in the community.

What a shame though, that it took him calling into a radio show for anyone to realise how lonely he is and act on it. In our hyper-connected world no-one should feel lonely.

Perhaps, now and again, we all need to reminisce on the old days of ad-hoc conversations in the street, nipping over to a neighbour’s house now and then, popping by to pay people a visit or visiting nursing homes to offer a little company. Whilst it won’t replace the person that they are missing, often, it is the little chats that can make a real difference on someone’s day. We try hard to make a difference in the community at UKFast but this has certainly reminded me to think more outside of our inner circle.

Mr Palmer, I wish you the best of luck and, if you’re ever in the Manchester area, you’re more than welcome to pop in for a coffee with the whole team of friends here at UKFast Campus!

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