Loneliness amongst the elderly is unfortunately very common in numerous countries, including the Netherlands. Research has shown that loneliness affects about 50% of people 55 years and older.
Due to this, the Dutch local Jumbo Supermarket in Vlijmen decided to launch two great initiatives, their “All Together Coffee Corner” and a “Chat Checkout”.
About a month ago, The All Together Coffee Corner was officially opened by the 94-year-old Christien Smits and Dutch Minister Hugo de Jonge. It is meant to be a place where the elderly can meet locals and volunteers of the “Alles Voor Mekaar” Foundation.
Shoppers can sit and have a cuppa and a chat, so this coffee corner is providing some shoppers much-needed social interaction. Moreover, some volunteers have even been offering to do grocery shopping with some elderly customers, combating loneliness even more.
The Foundation has been operating for more than a year and is completely dependent on local volunteers. It has been a huge success.
One of the volunteers, Liesbeth Geveling, meets with 94-year-old customer Christien Smits every week. The two have a drink, and she helps the older woman to do some shopping, so they have become real friends.
She also says that volunteers will regularly visit the Coffee Corner to get into contact with those who are in need of some support, and in this way, they will continue looking out for each other.
To contribute, The Jumbo in Vlijmen decided to introduce the Chat Checkout, the first of its kind in the world. It is a spot where the elderly who are not in a rush, can stop to have a little chat with the cashier.
These initiatives are worth praise, as nowadays, we only witness attempts to accelerate our shopping time, and customers are pushed towards self-service, which eventually leads to less and less human interaction.