EASTBOURNE businessman Dave Cooper reflects on issues affecting us at the moment.

A NUMBER of people contacted me after my words in the last column which was mainly aimed at school leavers but did briefly touch on alternatives for doing things later in life.

There are a number of opportunities available and I made mention of the Open University but there is a wealth of other providers out there.

As a more mature student the emphasis may be more on doing something you enjoy rather than trying to carve a career and there are two places in particular that I am aware of that offer such courses.

U3A (University of the Third Age) can be found online at https://www.u3a.org.uk/ and The Open University can be found at http://www.open.ac.uk/ .

I myself completed my Batchelor of Science degree with the Open University after the College I was attending decided not to continue with the course I was on.

Another provider is one for the ladies and us gents should be truly envious of this capability.

The Women’s Institute has a dedicated College offering a wide range of courses and details can be found at https://www.denman.org.uk/

I was going to write something about what we expect from our politicians in times of crisis such as the pandemic we are going through now but something far more important has come to mind so you might forgive me for giving that a miss until later.

The topic I want to cover is loneliness as that is a pandemic that needs addressing and quickly.

The thought of being lonely and sitting in a room unable to go out because you are shielding or just to worried to meet with other people must be awful.

At the same time charities that would have provided support in the past may be suffering financially and unable to provide the same services they did previously.

I say that with complete consciousness that charities are doing their very best but have to work within the resources that they have which, I imagine for most, are being limited by the COVID pandemic at present.

There is an alternative though and this goes back to my article in the last edition where I touched on being an “energy giver”.

I appreciate that everyone’s position will be different and some people won’t have access to the internet so the likes of Zoom, Go to Meeting and Microsoft Teams won’t be available to them but nevertheless there will be an end to this pandemic so open up your options.

There has never been a better time or reason to join a community group.

That way you will make new friends, reduce loneliness and be an energy giver to your local community.

Even if you aren’t lonely now in many respects belonging to one of these groups is an insurance policy for later life when you may find yourself alone and lonely.

There are a wide range of groups that do so much good work both humanitarian and community spirited.

Groups that come to mind are Rotary, The Lions, Round Table, WI and so on.

I can’t list them all but I know from personal experience that they are a great place to make friends.

Personally, I have been a member of The Rotary Club of Eastbourne AM for over 20 years and that alone has given me the opportunity to meet other people as well as get involved in charitable activities.

There are a number of Rotary Clubs in Eastbourne who meet (presently online) but normally at different times of the day – there are breakfast clubs, lunch clubs and evening clubs so it’s worth looking around to see what would be best for you after the restrictions lift.

I think the one thing that jumps out to me is how lonely it must be without access to the internet and this needs to be a target area for our politicians given what we have learnt from this pandemic.

David Cooper, Eastbourne businessman