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Take some time to reflect today: The International Day of Friendship

This may sound like such a ridiculously obvious statement to make but friendship, to anyone, is vital.

Two toys befriend each other
Are you the best friend you can be? Think about it on the International Day of Friendship. Photo: Fabrizio Lonzini/flickr

It provides comfort in places where there is none, it provides that warm feeling of being wanted and being relevant, and it provides memories that last a lifetime and beyond.

However, it seems the components of friendship are, sadly, talked up and talked up, for them only to then not be acted upon.

I'll give you a couple of examples. Firstly: compassion - a strong emotive word. It gets thrown about like bread in a duck pond. However, I get an increasing sense that it is an unfashionable value to uphold.

It certainly is if our Prime Minister David Cameron is anything to go by when he labelled the migrants in Calais as a "swarm". Nice one, Dave!

And all the time 'friends' say that this needs to be done, and that needs to be done. Then when it comes down to action, their previous eagerness turns to flaccid inactivity.

As a society, I feel we have become passively ignorant. What I mean by that is that we don't care what's happening as long as we don't know about it. I'm not meaning to aim fire at anybody in particular but I'm just saying what I generally see. And it's a sad sight, believe me.

A perfect example is the killing of the African lion Cecil this week. Game hunting has been going on for generations around the world (wrongly so in my opinion) and particularly in Africa. So much so, that it's become an industry.

Now, because people know about it, there are petitions to ban it and imports of hunting trophies into the USA and EU. This isn't suddenly a morally wrong and callous act. It's always been wrong.

I'm guilty of it too at times. I think we all are. So that's why I've been reflecting on the following facts today.

According to the national charity, 'Friends of the Elderly' there are around one million older people in the UK who are often lonely. This means one in eight households is the home of an older lonely person. This rises to every fourth home in some areas of the country.

In a supporting survey, the charity said that 80 per cent of people questioned had irregular or no contact with older people. While 50 per cent said they did not know their neighbours well enough to have a conversation with them.

For me, that's a damning indictment of society today.

So, just ask yourself these two important questions:

What do your friends mean to you?

What do you think you would do without them?

Over five million people are affected by loneliness today, with more than one million saying they are often or always lonely, and this is predicted to increase by 40 per cent by 2030. Loneliness has a devastating impact on the lives of older people, can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and is as much of a health risk as smoking.


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