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As Loneliness Awareness Week begins Manchester United team checks in with Age UK service users during lockdown

Published on 15 June 2020 01:00 PM

As part of a wider campaign to help tackle loneliness amongst older people some lucky Age UK service users and lifelong football fans received some very welcome phone calls from their sporting heroes during lockdown.

Cadbury Dairy Milk’s Donate Your Words campaign with Age UK, which launched last year, saw Manchester United come on board in February 2020 to help raise awareness of the important cause by inviting 11 older Guests of Honour onto the pitch before kick off to meet and shake hands with the team.

Since then, the world has faced an unprecedented pandemic. The outbreak of coronavirus has impacted everyone, but it has hit older people especially hard. Cadbury and Manchester United have now teamed up once again to support Age UK’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal to help the Charity provide support to the most vulnerable and isolated older people in our communities.

In light of current times some of those Guests of Honour - Michael, 72, Pauline, 72, Paul, 71 and Carol, 65 - were each treated to a friendly phone call where they caught up with the both Manchester United and Manchester United Women players, Harry Maguire, Lee Carter, Daniel James and Amy Turner to discuss all things lockdown, from football to haircuts and much more.

Each of the Guests of Honour normally take part in social activities at their local Age UKs, including Age UK Trafford’s men’s cooking class, Age UK Manchester’s Out in The City LGBT group and Age UK Oldham’s volunteering activity. Due to lockdown many of Age UK’s social activities and groups are no longer taking place and a most have had to turn their attention to provide frontline services, such as delivering food and medicines to older people.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “These calls come at a time when loneliness and isolation are concerns that are high on everybody’s agenda – not only is it Loneliness Awareness Week, but lockdown itself has perhaps given many a slight taste of what everyday life can be like for some older people who often have very little human contact.

“As evidence from around the world shows that it is older people most at risk if they contract coronavirus, we know a huge number have been staying indoors, unable to go out and see people or take advantage of the various eases in lockdown like some of us can. In addition, most people over 75 are not online so cannot turn to social media to chat to family or friends to break up their days. We are extremely worried for the millions of older people who are on their own, who do not have family and friends nearby or at all, and will need a lot of love and support from all of us to help them get through this. We hope these exciting phone calls encourage everybody who can to pick up the phone or check in on an older relative, neighbour or friend or perhaps speak to Age UK about how else you can help right now.”

Michael, 72, who was a regular at Age UK Trafford’s men’s cooking class, is a longstanding supporter of Manchester United. During lockdown Michael has signed up to Age UK’s telephone befriending service where he will be matched with a volunteer and receive regular calls. Following his call with player Harry Maguire, Michael said: “I’ve grown up watching Manchester United so all of this is just incredible – I’ve chatted to Harry a few times now and it really does help to lift my spirits.

“I started going to Age UK Trafford’s cooking class in January as I live alone and wanted to learn how to cook for myself. They taught me about nutrition, how to chop vegetables and I’ve also had the chance to meet some like-minded people at the class – it was a great morning out - I looked forward to it every week! Going home to an empty house can be horrible, so before lockdown I would try to keep myself busy in the day with classes and clubs like this and I would feel better later on. Obviously it’s all changed now so I have had days when I’ve felt terribly alone but I’m trying my best to go out for walks and speaking to people on the phone really helps to brighten up my day!”

Demand for Age UK’s vital services has increased rapidly during this unprecedented health emergency. Help Age UK keep their Information & Advice and friendship services running and help local Age UKs provide practical support in their communities by making a donation today.

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Last updated: Feb 05 2024

Notes to editors:

Age UK is a national charity that works with a network of partners, including Age Scotland, Age Cymru, Age NI and local Age UKs across England, to help everyone make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.

In the UK, the Charity helps more than seven million older people each year by providing advice and support.  It also researches and campaigns on the issues that matter most to older people. Its work focuses on ensuring that older people: have enough money; enjoy life and feel well; receive high quality health and care; are comfortable, safe and secure at home; and feel valued and able to participate.

Age UK’s subsidiary charity, Age International, supports older people globally in over 30 developing countries by funding programmes such as vital emergency relief and healthcare and campaigning to raise awareness and change policies.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and registered company number 6825798). Charitable services are provided through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s Community Interest Company (CiC) (registered company number 1102972) which donates its net profits to Age UK (the Charity)


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Contact the Age UK Media team on 020 3033 1430 during office hours (Mon-Fri 08:30-17:30) or for out-of-hours media support please email 

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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).

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