Loneliness amongst old people is common across the world. According to studies, more than half of the people who are more than 55 years old suffer from pangs of loneliness. This rising problem struck the people at the Jumbo Supermarket, located in Vlijmen, who came up with unique ways to counter it. They started the “Chat Checkout” and “All Together Coffee Corner”. The idea of a social corner at the supermarket where elders can sip coffee, meet perfect strangers, talk about their day and even seek help, has won several hearts.
Dutch Minister Hugo de Jonge and 94 years old Christien Smits opened the special corner. The objective of this corner was the creation of a safe space for the old people who could meet people volunteering for the “Alles Voor Mekaar” Foundation. The local volunteers have made this scheme successful by chatting with the elders, doing the small chores, and offering to help them shop. The aim of The Jumbo was to create a happy place with positive vibes.
Image: Facebook Voor Mekaar
Taking this scheme forward, they came up with the “Chat Checkout”, an innovative cure for loneliness. Loneliness can be an overwhelming feeling and at times the victims cannot separately seek help. This special chat checkout service allows the cashier to spend some time talking to elderly customers. There is a separate line for the other customers so that no one faces any inconvenience.
According to Alexander Van Weert, who came up with the idea, the motive of the place is to nudge people to look after each other. Volunteer Liesbeth Geveling is a weekly visitor and often goes shopping with Christien Smits. They chat over cups of coffee and have become really good friends. The general attitude of the people working in the supermarket industry is to maximize profit while cutting down costs. The Jumbo moves against the current by not pushing the customers towards self-service and extending a helping hand instead. A lot of old people are not tech-savvy and need patient assistance, which they find at The Jumbo.
Image: Omroep Brabant
The bane of capitalism is the rising rate of loneliness among people and the only cure is human interaction. A little empathy goes a long way, and this small initiative will hopefully inspire more people.
Featured image: Jumbo.nl