Help prevent loneliness this Christmas
Age UK has just premiered its new film, Just another day, in time for Christmas. It says that for 1.4 million older people, Christmas isn’t a special day that holds particular significance – it is another day like any other, and it passes them by. The video is part of the ‘No one should have no one’ campaign to help highlight the problem of loneliness in the older generation and raise awareness, so that more people turn to help those in need – not just at Christmas, but all year round.
The charity says that 928,000 older people feel lonelier at Christmas than at other times of the year, and around two fifths of this number are widowed. Chronic loneliness affects 1.2 million older people in England alone.
We all get wrapped up in our lives at this time of year, and it can be easy to forget about an elderly relative or neighbour who will be home alone this year on Christmas Day. You can offer to open your home to those you know who will be alone, or give a call to distant family members if you can’t be there physically to show that you are thinking of them.
Here are some other ways that you can help to support older people this festive season.
Donate time or money to Age UK
Age UK has its own services to help older people who are lonely. It runs a Call in Time service, which is a national befriending service that matches volunteers with an older, lonely person for a weekly phone call. Those 30-minute weekly calls can make all the difference for someone who is lonely. You can opt to donate a sum of money to help with the charity’s work, or sign up to be a volunteer and be the person that can chat to an older person once a week and make their day.
Join Community Christmas
Another initiative that is helping to reduce loneliness at Christmas is Community Christmas, which aims to provide companionship to older people on Christmas Day through locally run schemes. Anyone can set up an event in their local area, which could be a meet up at a local pub, a meal at a restaurant or a hobby day where lonely older people are invited to come together and meet new people. Community Christmas keeps a web listing of all events that welcome older people on Christmas Day so that you can search for events in your local area to see if they need volunteers, or set up a new event.
Campaign to End Loneliness
The Campaign to End Loneliness works all-year-round to help combat loneliness in people of all ages. It aims to reach those who are lonely and help them get the support that they need; advise existing services and activities on how to address loneliness; and develop new services and activities to help combat loneliness. You can donate money to help the cause, or you can sign up to be a supporter and get more involved in the work that they do.
Be proactive in your community
If you want to reach out and help the older people in your local area, then consider what you can set up to help them have company this Christmas. There are already heart-warming stories of companies and establishments who are opening their doors to older people this year. If you work in an organisation that can provide food or drink for older people, then this is always a great gesture. However, sometimes it is the little things that count too. Some older people won’t receive any presents on Christmas Day, as they have no family. A small box of chocolates and a card could change their day, or a mince pie and a chat with a neighbour can make them feel less alone for one day.