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Third of grandparents don’t see grandchildren often

Published on 28 January 2013 06:00 AM

Third of grandparents don't see their grandchildren regularly, says new research: Virgin London Marathon 2013 charities unite generations to combat isolation

According to new research which highlights the extent of loneliness amongst older people, almost a third (32%)(i) of grandparents aged 65+ in Great Britain only see their grandchildren once a month or less.

The figure is released today by joint official Virgin London Marathon charities Age UK and YouthNet, which have joined forces to tackle isolation and loneliness across generations.

Key findings show that almost a third (32%)(ii) of older people only see their children fortnightly or less and over a fifth (21%)(iii) see close friends just as infrequently, although feelings of isolation were eased by having regular contact with young people. One in five(iv) older people aged 65+ who always feel lonely admitted that loneliness is more difficult to admit to than other issues such as health, money and relationships. A separate study shows that younger generations are also affected, with (19%)(v) of young people ranking loneliness as a top fear for the future alongside debt and money worries.

The findings come as Age UK, the leading UK charity for older people, and YouthNet, the pioneering online young people's charity, call on runners to take part in this year's Virgin London Marathon to raise money for a new service which will see young volunteers help isolated older people to get online, bringing generations together to tackle loneliness and isolation.

The charities are setting up a digital service which aims to offer isolated older people the chance to learn how to use the internet and take advantage of ways to stay in touch such as email and online chat, as well as saving money and finding out about new hobbies. Younger people will be given the opportunity to develop their confidence and learn new skills to share their digital experience with older people in their local communities.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said: 'We already know that loneliness affects over a third (34%)(vi) of people aged 65+ in Great Britain. Modern day life means that more people live further away from loved ones so seeing older relatives regularly can be increasingly challenging. By bringing older and younger people together in their local communities through a new digital service we hope to go some way in helping to reduce isolation and loneliness across the generations.'

Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: 'There is so much that young people can contribute to society and helping older people to benefit from online and connect with their families so they feel less isolated is a great example of this. YouthNet has harnessed the power of the internet to connect young people with their peers for 16 years, so we're excited to be able to take this expertise and share it with a different generation to improve many more lives.'

As official charities for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, Age UK and YouthNet have approximately 350 guaranteed places and are looking for people with their own place in the race to also join the team. For more information and to find out how you can join ‘Team Run for It' (Age UK and YouthNet's Marathon team) and take part in the Virgin London Marathon 2013 please go to opens link in new window or call 0800 169 87 87 or email

If older people are suffering from loneliness or feeling isolated, help is available from Age UK's free advice line on 0800 169 6565. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week, where people can also find out how to contact their local Age UK. Alternatively visit Home.

People aged 16-25 who need support around any issue can get anonymous, expert advice online through YouthNet's guide to life, opens link in new window


Notes to editors

i,ii,iii,iv - TNS Capi Omnibus for Age UK (August 2012), 65+ (1,242 GB)
v - Fear and Hoping (2011) is the result on an online survey hosted on YouthNet's website,, between 22nd August and 26 September 2011. 1,101 respondents aged 16 to 25 living in the UK completed the survey
xi - Older respondents (65+) who are considered to be lonely expressed loneliness to some degree. Those who responded to a question about whether they felt lonely with ‘always,' ‘often' or ‘sometimes' were classified in this way.  TNS Capi Omnibus for Age UK (August 2012), 65+ (1,242 GB)

Media contacts
For more information on Age UK or for interviews please contact Karen Richards on 0203 0331428 or email

For more information on YouthNet call Katy Miller on 0207 2505779 or email

Age UK
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over six million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also support older people in more than 40 of the world's poorest countries through our subsidiary charity Age International and as a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group ("we").  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity's trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity). 

• YouthNet is the UK's first exclusively online charity and was founded by Martyn Lewis CBE, in 1995. YouthNet does this through two online services; the guide to life for 16 to 25 year-olds and the UK's leading volunteering website Do-it

• provides essential, straight-talking, anonymous advice to young people aged 16 to 25 about the issues affecting their lives

• In 2012 there were over 1 million instances of 16 - 25 year olds in the UK getting support from

• 95% of 16 to 25 year-old users of who responded to a survey, said they took direct actions to improve their situation as a result of visiting the service

• has been helping to improve the lives of young people for 16 years, and includes a thriving and supportive online community of over 40,000 registered users

• Run by online charity YouthNet, Do-it ( hosts around 1 million volunteering opportunities, searchable by postcode, plus articles and advice on finding the perfect role

• By the end of December 2012 1,079,597 volunteers were registered on Do-it and each month more than 55,000 opportunities are applied for through Do-it.


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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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