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Older people are more likely to live alone than any other age group, with over 2 million over 70 living alone in England. With many older people forced to self-isolate for much of the year, loneliness has become a danger on a par with the COVID-19 pandemic. Growing increasingly worried about the effects of social isolation, Alex Ramamurthy and Dhruv Haria set up Mirthy.

Mirthy is a platform that aims to combat loneliness amongst individuals in retirement by offering regular online talks with live audience interaction. Users can enjoy talks from expert speakers on a range of subjects, all from the comfort of their homes. CEO Alex Ramamurthy explains the inspiration behind the idea:

“During our research we met hundreds of retirees, who had a wealth of knowledge and experience that was being under-utilised. They had lots of free time, skills to share, and a hunger to learn new things. This really struck a chord with our parents' situation. My Co-Founder, Dhruv Haria, and I started to engage speakers of this age who gave educational and entertaining talks. The pandemic and resulting social distancing measures offered us the perfect opportunity to bring this online to the masses.”

Mirthy has a growing catalogue of over 100 online talks, including ‘Mad as a Hatter - the origins and meanings of sayings’, by Sandy Leong, a historian in her 70s, ‘Poisons for Medicine’, a darkly humorous look at medicine in the 19th Century, by Graham Harrison, a retired archaeologist, and ‘30 Years of Travel in China’, presented by Chris Forse, a retired teacher.

The platform has proved to be a huge success, offering a lifeline for many older people during these difficult times. Since May, Mirthy has registered over 40,000 participants and has signed over 60 new speakers. The Mirthy website has received 50,000 visitors and the platform has broadcast over 250 unique talks. The feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. Hilary D’Ettorre of the Royal Marsden NHS Retirement Fellowship Branch describes the pleasures of using of Mirthy:

“I have enjoyed immensely the talks from Mirthy. It really does make you feel like you are in touch with the real world! The speakers and topics have been really good. I enjoy the feature whereby you can talk to others linked in for the talk by corresponding on the chat section. For those who have not watched any of the talks I can wholeheartedly recommend them.”

For users who want a taste of the Mirthy experience, the platform runs a free talk every week with more than 1,000 attendees. Recent subjects include 'William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement' and 'Curiosities from London's Streets'.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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