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Christmas is over - but people are still lonely

26 December 2016

Steve ChuIn this month's blog, our Chief Executive, Steve Chu, suggests some 2017 New Year resolutions to help prevent loneliness all year round.


So the decorations can be taken down, presents put away, and we can stop worrying about older people being lonely at Christmas. Right?


Wrong. It’s great that we make a special effort to remember those who are lonely at Christmas.


But let’s not forget that people are still lonely in January, and will be for the rest of 2017.


More than a third of older people (37 per cent) consider the television as their main source of company, according to a survey, while for 12 per cent it is a pet. That is around 100,000 older people in Sheffield whose main company is not another person.


So it was desperately sad, but not surprising, to read in The Star about the appeal for people to attend Bill Parkin’s funeral, just before Christmas. The British Legion feared only a handful of mourners would pay their final respects to the 86-year-old military veteran. In the event, I was one of many people who attended – it was standing room only.


I wish Bill had known about Age UK Sheffield’s Aged Veterans programme, which helps older service veterans with their finances and loneliness issues, and I hope the programme means we can reach more veterans in 2017.


As we head into the New Year, there are a few simple resolutions you could make to help older people live better lives in Sheffield.


• Employers – people aged over 50 have so much experience to bring to a workplace. Being in work is the biggest single factor in staving off the poverty, loneliness and poor health that affects many in later life. Are you doing all you can to ensure your workplace is making the most of older people?


• Volunteer with us – whether it be helping an older person, doing some fundraising for us, or helping out with our information and advice service, volunteering is easy and doesn’t require any specialist skills. If you miss the company of other people, becoming one of our volunteer information advisors could be a great way of meeting new people.


• Over-50s – if you need help from Age UK Sheffield, just ask us. Whether you haven’t got enough money to make ends meet, want to meet new people, or need a bit of advice, we can help.


• Family members – very often our older relatives don’t want to ask for help, and those of us who are sons, daughters, nieces and nephews may feel too busy or live too far away to visit. Maybe you could prompt your relative to seek our help, or put in place some support in the home for them.


If you would like help with any of these issues to make 2017 a better year for an older person you love, call us on (0114) 250 2850.