Supporting someone with loneliness at Christmas

Christmas is traditionally a time to spend with family – this year even sees the Queen breaking with tradition to allow Meghan Markle to spend Christmas at Sandringham!

It is a great time for us to connect with each other, especially as almost a million older people feel lonelier at Christmas.  However, it might also be a time when you see a relative that you haven’t seen in a while, and you notice they have become more isolated or vulnerable. Loneliness can have as much as an impact on poor health as a long term illness and it is not something that can be treated with medication or that can be referred for hospital treatment. Welbeing sees an increase in calls from customers who are more anxious then normal, may need extra reassurance and support or simply would like to have a chat because they are lonely and haven’t any family or friends to rely on.

Here’s our 12 Days of Christmas guide to helping support someone with loneliness:

  1. The Campaign to End Loneliness is a great resource. It’s a network of organisations and people working together to tackle social isolation and has lots of tips and advice.
  2. Comedian Sarah Millican is leading a drive to tackle loneliness on Christmas Day by getting people who are alone or feeling alone to chat to each other under the Twitter hashtag #joinme.
  3. Call The Silver Line for a chat. It’s the only confidential, free helpline for older people across the UK that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 0800 4 70 80 90.
  4. Make a pledge to the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness by agreeing to start a conversation with someone you know.
  5. Buy your loved one a lifeline pendant and alarm, its gives peace of mind to individuals and their friends and family knowing that at a press of a button someone is there to help.
  6. Men in particular can find it hard to join social groups. Mens Sheds are about meeting like-minded people and having someone to share your worries with. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge.
  7. Contact the Elderly organises free, monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 or over who live alone.
  8. Get online and join Gransnet – it’s the busiest social networking site for the over 50s. At its heart is a buzzing forum where users debate the hot topics of the day, support each other through tough times and share a laugh.
  9. Worried about something happening to you when you are out and about? Wear a silicone wristband and the emergency services can ring the phone number on the wristband and be advised of any important medical information about you.
  10. Sign up to Age UK’s befriending service – a volunteer can either visit an older person in their home, perhaps for a cup of tea and a chat, or accompanies them to an activity or the befriender will phone an older person at an agreed time for a chat.
  11. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) run Telephone Book Clubs. Get together over the phone for a chat from the comfort of your own home to read and discover new authors books.
  12. Join the British Red Cross’s Connecting Communities – up to three months of support to help you feel better connected and enjoy the benefits of being more involved in the local community. You’ll be paired up with one of our local team members. Together you will rediscover your interests, rebuild your independence and find new friends.