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This Christmas set to be the loneliest yet: more than half of the older population in the South West are concerned they won't see friends and family this Christmas.

Published on 02 December 2020 02:45 PM

More than 200,000 older people in the South West are expecting to feel lonely this Christmas according to Age UK’s new research for its No one should have no one campaign.

The second national lockdown in England is also causing uncertainty for older people, and more than half of people aged 65 and over in the South West – around 690,000 people - are concerned that COVID-19 restrictions might mean that they cannot see family or friends this Christmas, potentially making this festive period the loneliest and scariest ever experienced for many older people.

Winter is always a tough time for older people - dark nights, short days and cold, often wet weather make it harder to get outside. These challenges combined with pandemic restrictions mean that chance encounters - like catching up with neighbours on the street or friendly chats at the supermarket - are less likely right now, yet they can make a big difference to those who are almost always on their own, or feeling lonely. 

Research carried out by Age UK has previously found that following months of staying inside, some older people have lost confidence in doing day-to-day activities they previously took in their stride, and are no longer taking pleasure from things they used to enjoy. With the worst of winter still very much to come and COVID-19 continuing to represent a threat to older people, the Charity is worried that many will find the next few weeks and months particularly tough to navigate, especially if they are on their own.

The good news from these new findings is that people have stepped up to support our older population during the pandemic, which has made a huge and much appreciated difference – nearly half of older people in the South West say they wouldn’t have got through the pandemic without their friends, highlighting the power of friendships and human connection, which older people need now more than ever before.

However, while more than 600,000 older people in the South West have had someone call them for a chat because of their situation during the pandemic, sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. Recent ONS figures show that, across Great Britain, 2.2 million of over 60s say that haven’t had anyone to talk to about their worries and sadly 2.2 million said they felt like they are a burden on others.   

For many older people, Age UK Devon will be their lifeline this winter, and the Charity is calling for donations to help fund its vital services and activities.

Sophie Littlewood at Age UK Devon said: "This seems set to be a festive period like we have never experienced before, and not one of us would want to navigate on our own. At the best of times, Christmas can be bitter-sweet for many older people, but this year they are going to need our support even more than usual. At Age UK Devon we were thrilled to hear older people paying tribute to all the friends, neighbours - and strangers - who had reached out to offer them help during the first wave, but the fact is we know that some older people missed out, and are likely to do so again. We want to be there with anyone who finds themselves in that position this winter, but we can only do it with the public's support, so please do donate to our campaign this year if you can."

This winter will be like no other, yet far too many older people are facing this challenging and uncertain time alone. To find out how you can support Age UK Devon by donating through our website or call 0333 241 2340.

Older people and their families or friends who need support can call Age UK Devon on 0333 241 2340 or email