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Len & Ivor

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. Here, we explain how befriending works, and meet some of the older people who’ve benefitted from befriending, as well as some of the amazing volunteers who make this vital service possible.

The problem of loneliness in later life

Loneliness is a massive issue for people in later life in the UK. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone, and 1 in 10 people aged 65 or over say they are always or often feel lonely – that’s just over a million people.

Shockingly, 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

Len and Ivor's friendship

Age UK Essex volunteer befriender Ivor visits 92-year-old widower Len. Watch their story below:

Age UK’s befriending services

To tackle the problem of loneliness among older people, Age UK has developed befriending services:

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.

Know someone who could benefit?

If you think you, or someone you know, could benefit from Age UK's befriending services, or if you wish to know more about how the service works, please get in touch:

If you're interested in arranging telephone befriending

Please call Age UK's Call in Time team on 0800 434 6105, email callintime@ageuk.org.uk, or write (including your contact details, with no stamp needed) to:

  • Freepost RSHU-UCSC-TUEG
  • Age UK
  • A Call in Time
  • Tavis House
  • 1-6 Tavistock Square
  • LONDON
  • WC1H 9NA

If you are referring someone other than yourself for telephone befriending, please use our referral form. Make sure you have their permission to do so, please provide us with as much relevant information as possible (i.e. main reason for referral, telephone contact details, the person's preferred times for us to get in touch with them, etc.)

Call in Time referral form (DOC 689 KB)

If you're interested in arranging face-to-face befriending (home visits)

Face-to-face befriending is a local service, so to arrange this you'll need to contact your local Age UK to find out what befriending services they offer.

You can find the contact details of your local Age UK by typing your postcode into the search box below.

Are you interested in volunteering as a befriender?

If you're interested in volunteering as an Age UK befriender, you can find out how you can get involved by visiting our volunteering page.

Find your local Age UK to arrange face-to-face befriending

Type in your postcode to the search box below to find the contact details of your local Age UK to find out what face-to-face befriending services they offer.

Related links

Donate to Age UK

If you can't spare the time to become a befriender, why not donate and together we can help end loneliness

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Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081