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35% of older people in Surrey affected by loneliness: gift your time this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 16:51 25 November 2015

Friends of the Elderly is calling upon people of Surrey to hold local Christmas activities so no older person will be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be.

As official partners of Community Christmas for 2015, national charity Friends of the Elderly hopes that more people than ever will get involved as around 500,000* older people in the UK are predicted to spend Christmas Day alone.

Last year there were seven Christmas Day activities listed for Surrey on the Community Christmas website, which saw a number of older people spending Christmas Day together enjoying one another’s company. However, research by Friends of the Elderly shows that 35% of older people living in the county are affected by loneliness** - meaning that many more activities are needed to ensure these people aren’t alone on Christmas Day.

As a response to this, Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are calling for volunteers to give the gift of time by organising a Christmas Day activity for older people in their communities and listing the event on the Community Christmas website.

Almost two thirds of people*** surveyed by Friends of the Elderly, as part of its Be a Friend campaign, said they feel they could do more to support older people at Christmas time – if you’re one of them then now is a good time to start planning your community Christmas. Organising an activity is easy – it’s not just about the turkey dinner, you could get people together to watch a Christmas film, share a cup of tea and a mince pie, or enjoy a Christmas Day walk.

If you’re a local business owner, think about how you can open your doors to older people in your community – pub landlords and restaurant owners could operate a ‘book alone but don’t dine alone’ system, call centres could open their staff canteens for festive treats, and local taxi firms could operate a lift scheme to and from Christmas Day activities.

If you’re already organising an activity on Christmas Day, or know of one in your area, then make sure you contact Community Christmas so it can be listed on the website making it easier for older people to know what’s happening in Surrey. Whatever you decide to do, you will help make sure more older people, who would otherwise be alone, have something to look forward to on Christmas Day - making it a very Merry Christmas indeed.

Steve Allen, Chief Executive at Friends of the Elderly, said: “Friends of the Elderly is delighted to be working with Community Christmas this year to support older people facing Christmas alone. We know that loneliness can have a devastating impact on older people’s lives and those we work with tell us that becoming isolated from a community they were once part of can be especially difficult. That’s why we’re calling on individuals, organisations and businesses to put on activities on Christmas Day to bring together older people in their community who don’t want to be alone.”

For more information please visit www.fote.org.uk/Christmas

• * Royal Voluntary Service predicted in 2014 there would be 490,000 older people who would spend Christmas alone

• ** The Future of Loneliness: Facing the Challenge of loneliness for older people in the UK, 2014-2030. Research conducted by the Future Foundation on behalf of Friends of the Elderly

• *** Friends of the Elderly, 2014

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