As Loneliness Awareness Week begins Manchester United team checks in with Age UK service users during lockdown
Published on 15 June 2020 02:00 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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Notes to editors
 An ‘older household’ for the purposes of the BEIS fuel poverty figures being used in the press release is defined as ‘a household where the oldest person is aged 60 or over’.
 Age UK calculation: Based on the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s fuel poverty projections (available here: http://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/price-cap-methodology/) combined with BEIS statistics on the proportion of fuel poor households where the oldest person is aged 60+ (available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics#2019-statistics).
 BEIS, 2021. Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics in England, 2021 (2019 data). Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/fuel-poverty-detailed-tables-2021. [Accessed 03/11/21]. LILEE data, table 22.
 DWP (29 October 2020). Income-related benefits: estimates of take-up 2018-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/income-related-benefits-estimates-of-take-up--2
 25,681 people in total have told Age UK that they are worried about their energy bills. The time frame for campaigners saying they’re worried about bills is 21st Oct – 14th November 2021.
 To date, 6,536 Age UK campaigners have written to their MP to raise their concerns about energy issues. The timeframe for the MP action is Thursday 18th – Wednesday 24th November 2021.
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