We all know what it's like to feel lonely, but did you know that around 1 million older people regularly go an entire month without speaking to anyone?
At Age UK one of the ways we try to beat loneliness in later life is through our befriending services, where a volunteer visits an older person once a week in their own home.
What is befriending?
To tackle the problem of loneliness among older people, Age UK has developed befriending services:
- Face-to-face befriending, where a volunteer befriender visits an older person in their home
- Telephone befriending, where a volunteer befriender will phone an older person
With both types of befriending each older person is assigned a befriender, who provides friendly conversation and companionship on a regular basis over a long period of time.
Befriending provides an older person with a link to the outside world and often acts as a gateway for other services and valuable support.
Why is befriending so important?
Loneliness is a massive issue for people in later life in the UK.
- Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone
- 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over say they are always or often feel lonely – that’s just over a million people.
- Half of all older people consider the television their main form of company.
Joy, 88, from Stockport, found herself on her own after her husband passed away: ‘My husband died and left me on my own. I managed to cope with things and get by at first.
'But in the last two years it got very lonely and miserable. I saw my daughter once a week, but the rest of the time I was on my own with nobody to talk to. I thought, “This can’t go on with me by myself”.’
Read what happened next to Joy
What do I do next?
> For telephone befriending, find out more
> For face-to-face befriending: Use the search box below to find your local Age UK, which runs the face-to-face services independently.
Watch Len and Ivor's friendship
Age UK Essex volunteer befriender Ivor visits 92-year-old widower Len. Watch their story below: