A simple conversation can be the first step to battling loneliness 0
Some people are lonely in Vancouver because they don't take time to listen to what others are saying. (PHOTO ILLUSTRATION)
A simple conversation on a bus taught Beryl Wilson a lesson about combatting loneliness.
Wilson was annoyed by the number of people listening to IPods or fixated on smartphones and not paying any attention to each other.
She voiced her frustration to the person beside her just as the young woman pulled out her own smartphone. It was then the 82-year-old Wilson learned the woman was going to the same meeting and was texting a friend to save her a seat.
"I asked her to save two seats,'' Wilson said with a laugh.
Just making a small effort like talking to the person beside you can be the first step in breaking down the barriers of isolation about 50 people were told Thursday at a forum presented by SFU to discuss the Vancouver Foundation's report on loneliness in Vancouver.
"I hit paydirt,'' said Wilson. "You never know.
"If you say something to somebody on the bus, sure a lot of the time you get a blank stare. Other times you can have an entertaining exchange or something very instructive. You never know.''
A Vancouver Foundation survey released earlier this year found one in four residents found Vancouver a lonely place to live.
When foundation vice-president Catherine Clement first read the survey she thought complex solutions were needed to make people more engaged.
"Simple things make a difference,'' said Clement. "First of all you have to connect people, then you get them engaged.''
The foundation is offering grants of under $500 that can be used to promote block parties or community dinners. Several people at the forum said sharing meals is a great way for people to connect.
"Simple is better,'' Clement said.
One man said getting to know your neighbours can have disadvantages.
"You discover you don't like them,'' he said.