Let's Talk More
Earlier this month, I watched the Twittersphere fall in love with the short film Andy Parsons made for the Campaign to End Loneliness, showing the power of a simple ‘hello’. The #LetsTalkMore hashtag was trending and Twitter was full of people inspired by the power of connecting with each other, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and it was great to see the work of the Campaign reaching far and wide. But at the same time, I also felt a little sad that a reminder, or permission, is needed for us to interact with our fellow beings, person to person.
As someone who likes to chat, Food Train is an ideal place to work. Every part of daily life here revolves around human connections, people helping each other. Whether we are standing in the doorway of the supermarket asking passers-by to volunteer, or talking a new customer through all our services, talking is our thing, and it’s free.
I’ve read many articles over recent years about tackling the growing problem of social isolation and loneliness, and the desire for connections and conversations to be meaningful, but I don’t think we need get too bogged down by what we talk about, just that we do talk and keep on talking, to each other. In Andy Parson’s film, the conversation built around a prawn sandwich, hardly meaningful? Wrong. People had something to say about the sandwich, it was the topic that helped the conversation develop, there was a bit of laughing, joking, banter developed and thus without trying to, it became meaningful in its own way.
Our Monday office volunteers are habitual talkers and listeners. Their job involves taking grocery orders over the phone, chatting with customer across Scotland who are either very rural, or no longer able to write out their own list. It can be a 10-minute call or an hour, the customer may not have spoken to anyone for a few days so talking about the merits of Kleenex versus Andrex may sound just trivial chit chat, but like the prawn sandwich, it’s the conversations that follow on that create a feeling of sharing something and gives that sense of connection with another person. For some of our older members talking toilet roll is the best part of their day, and if it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling, then I reckon that’s meaningful enough.