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Loneliness meets its match in Manchester

Manchester United players shaking hands with a group of older men and women

Pitch perfect

How some very special Manchester United fans met their heroes to raise awareness of the loneliness experienced by 1.4 million older people in the UK.



Football is a passion that lasts a lifetime. Just ask the Manchester United fans from various local Age UKs who made a special appearance at Old Trafford this past weekend to raise awareness of loneliness in later life.

The perfect match

As well as having enough to form their own football team, the 11 'Guests of Honour' from Age UK Manchester, Age UK Trafford, Age UK Cheshire and Age UK Oldham were lucky enough to be invited onto the pitch in front of 75,000 fans, where they were greeted by Manchester United’s first team and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær ahead of their Premier League match against Watford.

The visit was in recognition of Manchester United lending their support to Cadbury Dairy Milk's Donate Your Words campaign with Age UK, which launched last year, with Cadbury donating the words from Dairy Milk bars to help raise awareness of the 1.4 million older people struggling with loneliness.

You can see more by watching the video below.

Helpful conversations

Earlier in the day, many of the 11 sat down with Manchester United players past and present to discuss the problems loneliness can present. "As you pass somebody in the street or the post office, wherere it may be, find out about that person and how they're doing," said goalkeeper Lee Grant of the difference we can all make to older people with no one to turn to.

Winning smiles

After the match, Pauline, a dedicated red for more than 60 years, could barely contain her excitement about the day. “It’s a bit like winning the lottery,” she said. “If you’d told me when I was six that that I’d one day get to walk on the pitch with my team I’d have thought it was a dream.”

Carol was also very happy. “It was fabulous. Not only getting to meet all the players but be able to walk out on that sacred turf and being able to represent all the older people experiencing loneliness. It was great to be part of this campaign.”

More about Donate Your Words

Learn more about this campaign from Cadbury and the ways you can help Age UK in the fight against loneliness in older people.

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Last updated: Feb 23 2023

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