Issue 41

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By VIEW editor Brian Pelan

The story of an 89-year-old man who found a job after placing an advert in his local paper asking for part-time work to stop him “dying of boredom” has touched the hearts of many who read and heard about it.

Joe Bartley, from Paignton, south Devon, is due to start work at a cafe in the town after the owners of the family-run business spotted his request.

Joe had put an advert in his local paper which read: “Senior citizen, 89, seeks employment in Paignton area. 20 hours plus per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” He said he had lived alone since his wife, Cassandra, died two years ago, and had been lonely. “When you live on your own there is no one to speak to. Since she died I’ve moved into a flat and it’s a big block. Once you walk into that flat it’s like solitary confinement,” he said.

Whilst there has been a happy end to Joe’s story his experience is not unique.

A lot of older people live alone in towns and cities throughout the UK. Many of them will experience the situation of sitting in a room on their own and perhaps not having anyone to talk to for days on end.

This issue of VIEW looks at the subject of loneliness and social isolation and efforts to combat it. We are delighted to have the support of Age NI in producing this publication. They and a number of other organisations have been doing great work to highlight loneliness and have launched a series of initiatives to tackle it.

I was delighted to speak to Olympic gold medal winner Mary Peters. It was a pleasure to talk to her and hear her views on loneliness and why we as a society need to care more about each other.

I’m also grateful to Age NI chief executive Linda Robinson. She responded very positively when I contacted her to see if she would be interested in supporting a VIEW issue about loneliness.

The idea of tackling this subject first came about after I watched a BBC documentary called The Age of Loneliness.

Film-maker Sue Bourne said it’s a major public health issue. “A silent epidemic that’s starting to kill us. But we don’t want to talk about it. No-one really wants to admit they are lonely.”

If we are fortunate with our health we will all grow old and thus we all have an investment in ensuring that it is the best we can create.

Unfortunately, at a time of austerity, social conditions have worsened for many of us, including older people.

As journalists, VIEW will continue to write about this issue and other pressing social affairs subjects.

To read our loneliness issue online, go to

To download a PDF go to

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