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Age UK comment on social distancing

Published on 17 March 2020 03:00 PM

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “There are some simple steps we can all take that will make a huge the difference in, what may prove to be, some difficult weeks and months ahead.


“First and foremost, it will be important to make sure older and more vulnerable people have the things they need to stay safe and well at home. Picking up some shopping, prescriptions or running some errands could be a major help. However we also know that staying home alone creates its own risks. In particular the risk of becoming physically inactive and of a growing sense of loneliness and isolation which might occur after a prolonged period indoors. Doing what we can to encourage older people to stay physically active at home and ensuring they remain connected and included will be essential. This could mean making sure people have what they need to keep going with their hobbies and interests, for example going to libraries for older people, or items that can help with hobbies, like wool if they are knitters.  


“It is also time to think creatively about ways for people to stay in contact with each other and keep morale up. Now that everyone aged over 70, or with a serious health condition, is being advised to stay mostly at home and to avoid social gatherings and having visitors it is more important than ever to stay in touch over the phone, online or by post. Other than the usual routes of communication, one other example could be for instance a neighbourly Book Club dial-in. It might turn out that some of these options turn out to be a good way to nip loneliness in the bud in the long-term as well.


“What’s crucial is finding ways to keep people informed and in contact in a way which is low risk and ensuring older and more vulnerable people are protected. As these events unfold and we know more about what’s to come the advice may well change, so it’s important to keep up to date with reliable sources of information such as the NHS or Age UK website.”

-- Ends --

Notes to editors

[1] Online survey conducted by Opinium on behalf of Age UK between 14th and 18th January 2022. Sample of 1,280 UK residents (65++), weighted to be nationally representative of the 65+ age group.

[1] Online survey conducted by Opinium on behalf of Age UK between 3rd and 8th December 2021. Sample of 2,000 UK adults (18+), weighted to be nationally representative of the 65+ age group.

[1] Online survey conducted by Opinium on behalf of Age UK between 14th and 18th January 2022. Sample of 1,280 UK residents (65++), weighted to be nationally representative of the 65+ age group.

[1] 82 per cent of the 12,508,638 older people in the UK = 10,257,083 people


[1] As reported in the Financial Times, Monday 17th January 2022:

[1] On Monday 10th January 2022, the Charity wrote to the Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP) and for Work and Pensions (Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP), calling for immediate action to protect vulnerable older people from the cold this winter. This was the second letter from the Charity in as many months urging Ministers to take decisive action on energy bills to mitigate the potentially devastating impact of the escalating crisis, which will be nothing short of catastrophic for many older people without intervention. In addition, the letter underlined the need for longer-term thinking about how older people with the least ability to pay can be protected from energy price rises in the future. The letter was sent by email.

[1] DWP, 2020. Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up: financial year 2018 to 2019 (Table PC1). Department for Work and Pensions. [Online]. Available at: Accessed 19/01/2022 

Age UK

We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI and our local Age UK partners in England (together the Age UK Family). We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK believes that everyone should have the opportunity to make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances. 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.

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).

For more information

Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 (out of hours: 07071 243 243).

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Last updated: Jan 21 2022

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