Documentary Shines a Light on Loneliness in Shropshire
31 Aug 2022

Filmmakers shine a light on elderly people in Shropshire in an international documentary about the loneliness epidemic. 'All the Lonely People'  premieres at Shrewsbury's Old Market Hall on September 18 and features Victor Fields, 72, pictured here.

Heart-wrenching stories of loneliness and isolation in Shropshire have been captured in a new international documentary, which premieres in Shrewsbury on September 18. 

'All the Lonely People' has been created by Californian documentary filmmakers on behalf of the social impact organisation The Clowder Group in a bid to shine a light on the personal impact of loneliness.

Working with Age UK Shropshire & Wrekin, producer Joseph Applebaum and writer/director Stu Maddux, spoke to people in our county impacted by the loneliness epidemic, as well as older people in San Francisco, California.

Over a period of four years, they followed individuals and families, showing how they were able to overcome loneliness thanks to innovations by local organisations. Some of the cast who feature in the film will be special guests at the Shrewsbury premiere.

The film explores the reasons why older people often find themselves isolated and presents some of the ways loneliness can be overcome, including projects that are proving invaluable in Shropshire. 

Victor Fields is filmed for the All the Lonely People documentary

Victor Fields, 72, (pictured above) describes how he nursed his wife for two years: "When it was all over, I knew hardly anybody...I can't see me making a new circle of friends." 

He finds company at Sansaw Men's Shed, in Hadnall, a workshop where men come together to use their skills for community projects, or whatever they fancy working on, and enjoy chatting as they work. 

Sansaw Men's Shed sign with Victor pictured on a motorbike in the distance

The film suggests that understanding where older people's preferences are - listening to their interests - is paramount in reestablishing social connections.

Mary Hill, 89, (pictured below) laments never having learned to drive: "Years ago, you listened to the husband, the woman didn't have a say in anything," she says. Now, she is reliant upon the buses, but wishes she lived closer to town. 

"You keep wishing things were different than what they are."

Mary Hill pictured using the Dial a Ride service

She is helped by Shrewsbury Dial-a-Ride, a pre-bookable, door-to-door service which typically operates from Monday to Friday from 9am to 3.45pm and within a 10-mile radius of Shrewsbury. 

Researchers believe the effects of loneliness on our health are as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The added stress of feeling alone increases heart disease and even earlier onset of dementia.

Producer Joseph Applebaum hopes that by showing the film at 'reconnect events' around the globe - launching in Shrewsbury - he can bring about real social change by prompting discussion and exploring solutions to isolation and loneliness in our society. 

Age UK Shropshire & Wrekin will be hosting the premiere at The Old Market Hall cinema in Shrewsbury on Sunday, September 18. The charity worked closely with the Californian film-maker's from the film's inception. 

Stu Maddux filming in Shrewsbury

Writer/director Stu Maddux during the filming of All the Lonely People in Shrewsbury

Chief Executive Heather Osborne said: "It has been a privilege to work with the renowned filmmakers to shine a light on the enduring problem of isolation and loneliness in our society - and to have so much of the film shot in Shropshire has been a real thrill. We're all very excited to see the film in its entirety."

The ‘invite-only’ event will be attended by producers Joseph Applebaum and Stu Maddux, along with staff, volunteers & clients of Age UK STW and partner organisations that are providing resources to ease loneliness and social isolation in our area. 

Shropshire came to the attention of documentary filmmaker Applebaum through Age UK STW and Shropshire Council. 

“We felt Shropshire had people from many different walks of life challenged by this hidden pandemic but also many organisations that are discovering solutions,” says Applebaum.  “We are discovering that many audiences around the world see this unique area as similar to their own in many ways.”     

To contact Shrewsbury Dial-a-Ride ring (01743) 450270. Ring to try a ride before committing to membership.