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STV Cartoon Cavalcade star joins charity call to end loneliness

Published on 30 July 2021 12:24 PM

Glen Michael joins charity call to end loneliness

New research highlights vital role of good neighbours during a difficult year

Age Scotland is urging people to tackle loneliness in their communities on World Friendship Day (FRIDAY 30th), as new research shows the importance of good neighbours.

Former STV children’s star Glen Michael, 95, is supporting the campaign, sharing his own experience of loneliness and how a close community helped him after his wife died.

Despite still being recognised in the street, the Cartoon Cavalcade legend said that anyone could find themselves feeling alone behind closed doors. But he said that thoughtful neighbours had helped to brighten up an extremely difficult year.

Age Scotland’s Big Survey found that two thirds (66 per cent) of people in their 70s received offers of help from neighbours last year, rising to three quarters (74 per cent) among those in their 80s.

But the survey, undertaken with ScotInform, also shed light on soaring levels of loneliness across Scotland, with an estimated 218,000 older people feeling lonely most or all of the time. More than 3000 older people, from every council area in Scotland, took part earlier this year.

A lack of contact with others made the pandemic especially difficult for many older people across Scotland. Around one in four (24 per cent) said they did not normally see someone during the course of the week, rising to 28 per cent among those who lived alone.

Only one in five (21 per cent) had contact with others every day.

But one ray of hope in a difficult year has been the way that communities have come together to help those who were more vulnerable or on their own.

Almost half (46 per cent) of people aged 50 and over received offers of help from their neighbours, 19 per cent from other local people, and 18 per cent from community groups. Older people living alone were most likely to say they appreciated offers of help.

Mr Michael, who now lives in Ayrshire, delighted generations of children with Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade, which ran for more than 26 years. Together with his trusty dogs and Paladin the talking lamp, he introduced young viewers to famous cartoons. He also starred in numerous other STV productions and had a long-running stage career.

But despite having close friends and family, he still found himself experiencing loneliness after the death of his wife Beryl.

He said: “I know what it’s like to be lonely. My wife died in 2015 and all of a sudden I was on my own. I’m used to talking to people, and often get stopped in the street by people who recognise me. But still, when you go home and lock the front door, you are on your own. It’s quite frightening.

“I found myself just sitting on my own, looking at the TV, or going out for a cup of coffee just to speak to someone. You can have all the modern technology in the world, but it doesn’t help if you’re lonely. It’s people that matter. The only way you can feel some sense of being is to talk to someone.

“I know lockdown has been really tough for so many people. We’ve got a village shop where people usually go out and chat to each other – it’s the hub of the village and quite wonderful. But we lost opportunities like that.

“I’m very lucky to have a good community. I had a knock on the door the other day, and a neighbour had left a jar of marmalade on my doorstep for my breakfast! Something like that can make a huge difference to your day.”

He has joined Age Scotland to encourage people to call their Friendship Line if they are feeling alone. Set up last year, anyone can call for a blether with a volunteer, with many receiving regular weekly calls.

Mr Michael added: “I think the Age Scotland Friendship Line is a wonderful idea. It’s great to know there’s a friendly voice on the line if you are feeling on your own.”

Call 0800 12 44 222 on weekdays between 9am and 5pm to chat to one of our friendly team.

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Age Scotland provides a seven day a week response service to media enquiries through a dedicated telephone line and email.

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