Loneliness is true emotion that everyone goes through, but moreover for the elderly that tend to be left to their own devices as they age.
In the Netherlands, there are at least 1.3 million residents that are aged 75 and older, and one supermarket chain wants to make sure that they’re not feeling overly lonely now that they are in their golden years.
The Dutch government started a campaign called ‘One Against Loneliness,’ which has managed to inspire individuals, companies, organizations, and towns to find solutions to this sometimes overwhelming issue.
As for one grocery conglomerate, Jumbo, they’ve decided to do their part by installing what they’re calling ‘chatty checkouts.’
The idea behind ‘Kletskassa,’ which is basically translated to ‘chat checkout,’ actually began over two years ago during the summer of 2019 when the first Kletskassa was established in Vlijmen in Brabant.
It gained strength through tons of positive reactions from the stores’ customers, causing Jumbo to further expand this practice. According to the company, by the same time next year, there will be at least 200 stores that will initiate these chat checkouts all throughout the country, allowing customers to go inside and have an actual conversation with someone. The company also shared that the 200 stores that were chosen to participate are in areas where loneliness tends to be a major factor as well.
CCO of Jumbo, Colette Cloosterman-van Eerd, who also happens to be the driving force behind the National Coalition against Loneliness, has made sure to be highly involved with the Kletskassa initiative.
She explains, “Many people, especially the elderly, sometimes feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain, we are at the heart of society.”
“Our stores are an important meeting place for many people and we want to play a role in identifying and reducing loneliness. We do this in various ways, including our Kletskassas. We are proud that many of our cashiers like to take a seat behind a Kletskassa. They support the initiative and want to help people to make real contact with them out of genuine interest,” she adds.
She also shares, “It is a small gesture, but very valuable, especially in a world that is digitizing and getting faster and faster.”
Other Local Approaches to Loneliness
Aside from the ongoing Kletskassas, Jumbo also has a number of other initiatives that help foster personal contact and connection between people.
Cloosterman-van Eerd explains, “At Jumbo we want to be more than just a place where you do your shopping. For example, we help our stores by means of a manual to signal loneliness among customers and to set up local initiatives… Several stores also have a chat corner where customers can grab a nice cup of coffee and chat with neighbors.”
As it should be, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has chosen to support the formation of local coalitions to battle against loneliness in each of the 355 municipalities that can be found in the Netherlands, including programs that do telephone hotlines, home visits, and even make maps of activities for seniors to enjoy around their own areas and neighborhoods.
The hope is that If the rest of the world would just follow in the footsteps of the Dutch national movement to support their elderly, then loneliness won’t have to be something that anyone, especially the elderly, will have to deal with ever again.
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