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Spread the Warmth as snow threatens travel chaos

Published on 21 December 2010 03:30 PM

Age UK and 4Children urge families to get together and spread the warmth as snow threatens to cause travel chaos over Christmas

The return of the ‘Big Freeze' threatens to prevent relatives from uniting with their families over the Christmas period. With this in mind, Age UK - the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged - and leading children and family charity 4Children have joined forces with TV presenter Esther Rantzen CBE to urge Brits to share their festivities together this year.

With an estimated half a million older people in the UK set to spend Christmas Day alone*, and half of Brits seeing their extended family members twice a year or less**, the fresh cold snap is likely to leave even more people alone this Christmas.

TV presenter and journalist Esther Rantzen is calling on the public to break down barriers between the generations, so they can share Christmas together. Esther said: 'Christmas is a fantastic time for friends and families to come together. It is a time when friendships and family links can be renewed, as older and younger generations share the joy of Christmas.'

With the AA suggesting that motorists should be ‘flexible' over the Christmas period***, Esther Rantzen and the charities recommend that neighbours should keep an eye on older people who are alone. The call comes as part of Age UK's new Spread the Warmth campaign, which focuses on helping older people stay warm as well as reminding neighbours and friends of what they can do to help.

Esther continues: 'The tragedy is that many thousands of older people spend Christmas Day alone every year. Children too ring ChildLine every Christmas talking about the loneliness they experience. This year the number looks set to rise with snow and ice preventing people from travelling to see each other. We are calling for everyone to think again about whether or not they know someone who might be alone this Christmas with whom they could share their day.'

Both Age UK and 4Children also call on families who are unable to spend Christmas together to not wait until the next December 25th to do so.

Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said: 'Your family is for life and not just for Christmas. We know that many grandparents and other extended families are a fantastic source of love and support to many children and their parents, but that in other families contact is infrequent. Whether or not you do manage to bring your family together this Christmas, why not make it your New Year's resolution this year to make that extra effort to spend time with grandparents, aunts and uncles.'

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, said: 'Through the Spread the Warmth campaign we want to raise awareness of the difficulties many older people face in winter and let them know that Age UK can help them. We want as many people as possible to get involved in our campaign so we can offer the best support to those older people who need it.'

Too many older people are suffering and dying needlessly in winter due to lack of warmth, so Age UK created Spread the Warmth to help tackle the issue. The Charity and its local and national partners are making winter warmer by providing advice, support and practical services to help older people overcome issues with heating, health and human contact during the colder winter months.

For free information and advice, older people and their families can call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also find details of their nearest Age UK and order a free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up' - a guide sponsored by British Gas. Alternatively they can visit

- ENDS -

To arrange an interview with Esther Rantzen or for any questions about how this issue affects children please contact Julie Evans at 4Children on 0207 522 6928 or email (Esther will be available for interview on Monday 20 December and Tuesday 21 December - morning and late afternoon). For any questions about the impact this issue has on older people please call Katie Rispin at Age UK on 020 8765 7251 or email

* Christmas Day survey (unpublished), ICM Research for Help the Aged, 2007

** The Family Commission: carried out by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2114 adults. 20th and the 23rd of March 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)


Notes to Editors


4Children is the national charity that is all about children and families. In addition to running frontline support services for families across the country, 4Children has just completed a national 18 month inquiry into family life in the UK, chaired by Esther Rantzen CBE. As part of the inquiry, the charity consulted with 10,000 families across the country about their fears and ambitions for the future. As a result, 4Children is ideally placed to comment on the support needs of families in modern Britain and how measures introduced to tackle the deficit may impact on households of different structures, sizes and social backgrounds.

For further information, visit link in new window

Age UK

Age UK works in partnership with Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI. 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 inspired by the belief that it can improve the lives of people in later life. It celebrates ageing and believes it presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges at home and abroad. Age UK will challenge ageist prejudice in society, provide services that address market failures and support the public and private sectors to design age-friendly products and services. It will support people to remain in their own homes through campaigning and practical services and its Information and Advice service will offer millions of people support on a range of issues from claiming benefits to staying fit and healthy.

Age UK will fund biomedical research that helps tackle the ill health and poor quality of life that are too common as people age. Working with over 350 partners across the country, Age UK helps influence local decisions and delivers the most appropriate services. Its network of over 475 shops will act as a focal point for the local community, providing information and help with local services. Age UK works across the globe as well as in the UK, with its international partner, Help Age International, championing older people's rights and needs and as an active member of the DEC.

Media contacts: Katie Rispin, Age UK (0208 765 7452) / Julie Evans, 4Children (0207 522 6928)

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Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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