Almost a million (982,200) of people aged over 60 feel lonelier at Christmas time, according to new figures from Age UK.
And to highlight what a difficult time Christmas is for many older people, on Monday, we're releasing two short films with actors James Bolam MBE and Miriam Margolyes OBE.
The films show the actors narrating real-life stories of loneliness to support Age UK’s No one should have no one at Christmas campaign.
These poignant films are the real personal stories of Roy and Janet, who are supported by Age UK’s telephone befriending service that provides weekly friendship calls.
More help required
The overwhelming majority (85%) of those surveyed for the Charity agreed that there should be more help available for lonely older people.
In addition, more than 3 in 5 (63%) of this group thought regular visits from a friendly face would be helpful, while nearly half (48%) said the same about a regular weekly phone call.
Our latest figures show that 1.2 million older people in England are chronically lonely we're urging people to pledge their support to help tackle the loneliness that is blighting the lives of far too many older people.
Roy, aged 83, whose story features in the film, narrated by James Bolam, said: “Loneliness is something I have experienced first-hand and it goes without saying how upsetting it can be.
"My beautiful wife passed away one year ago and not a day goes by when I don’t miss her dearly.
"It takes some getting used to, going from spending every single day for the past 55 years with the woman I love, to facing each day without her."
"Joining Age UK’s befriending service has been a great help – my local Age UK helped to set this up and I will be forever grateful.
"I look forward to my weekly call and visit; I hit it off splendidly with the volunteers I was matched with. I’m feeling much more confident and positive now and would urge anybody who is feeling lonely and missing their loved ones this Christmas to sign up for this service."
Janet, aged 70, whose story also features in the film, narrated by actress Miriam Margolyes, said: “A lot of people assume that older people are surrounded by friends and family, especially at this time of year.
"Sadly, that’s not the case for all of us. I’ve dedicated my life to my career and then one day I found myself older and lonely – this wasn’t what I was used to, or what I wanted.
“Joining Age UK’s Call in Time service has without doubt helped me through some very difficult days.
"My befriender calls me every week and selflessly listens to me. She is a lovely and caring individual and I cannot thank Age UK enough for this help.
"We discuss all sorts of topics and usually end up having a laugh; which cheers me up.
"I used to go for days or weeks without talking to anyone at all - it could get to a point where I felt I had forgotten how to speak. Now, thanks to this service, I feel like somebody cares about me again.”
Age UK’s telephone befriending service relies on dedicated volunteers who are matched to lonely and isolated older people based on shared interests, and make regular phone calls to offer friendship, support and practical advice.
Although loneliness is a problem all year round, the Charity is calling on people to remember those facing Christmas alone by pledging their support for the campaign.
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