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Christmas loneliness article in The Guardian

Published on 27 November 2017 03:07 PM

Presenter and Camden resident Dave Berry recently wrote a piece in The Guardian which spoke about Age UK Camden's befriending service;

Of course I was aware of how this time of year affects the lonely, and yes, the idea of it makes me sad; but who aside from a publican in south-west London is doing anything about it? And what can I do to help?

I contacted my local Age UK in Camden, a charity that understands only too well the effects of loneliness on older people. I started by asking if they’d seen the tweet from the pub, and they had. The person I was speaking to brought up the comments underneath and says she was moved by them too. I went on to ask about working for a charity such as theirs at this time of year. 

“We try to give all our older community members Christmas gifts in early December and the majority of them will remain unopened in their homes until Christmas Day, so that they have something to open. For many of them it’s the only present they will receive and the only interaction they’ll have with anyone on Christmas Day. And it’s not just Christmas Day; it’s all year round. Our befriending scheme is just so important, plus a lot of our befrienders get so much out of it too.”

I’m also told of one lady who came over to the UK from Spain in the 1960s to work for a family as a nanny. She dedicated herself entirely to the family, but of course as the years whizzed by and the kids grew up and moved away, the family sold the house the nanny had called her home for all those years. She is in her 80s now and has lived alone in Kilburn for the past 17 years. She has no family. Nobody to speak of.

“A member of our befriending team takes her for tea every Monday afternoon and has apparently been privy to some extraordinary tales from her youth which she loves to share. Just last week we called her as always to make the arrangements for Monday afternoon tea; we shed a little tear in the office when she told us she couldn’t make it to tea that day because one of the children she cared for all those years ago had tracked her down and was coming to visit her from their home in America – she sounded very excited.”

Read the piece in full here if you would like to volunteer then please contact us on 020 7239 0400