A new campaign #50000reasons launched today, a partnership led by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and the Campaign to End Loneliness, is encouraging people to make contact with an older neighbour this Christmas.
People can also volunteer for a range of activities, including helping at your local care home or volunteering to support older people like Gordon Reffin - the 87 year old who volunteers for the Help at Home service for Care Network in Catworth, Cambridgeshire. He provides support for older people in a number of ways, such as providing company to people who live alone, helping people regain confidence after a stay in hospital, light shopping, collecting prescription and accompanying older folk on walks or visits to the shops.
Gordon Reffin said: “I came to Care Network because I couldn’t bear to think that there were people in my village or community who were on their own when there is something I can do to help. It is a humbling experience to know that I can improve their quality of life. During my visits I find it rewarding to offer any support and to inspire people to enjoy life again.”
Statistics suggest that as many as 50,000 older people who live alone across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough may be at risk of experiencing loneliness - that’s 50,000 reasons for you to act to tackle isolation this festive season.
The good news is that loneliness is preventable if we all work together and it’s the small and simple things that can work best this Christmas to reduce social isolation.
Christmas can be a difficult and isolating time for people who live alone or have family living far away. It can be a time when people reflect on what they have lost in life, increasing feelings of loneliness. It can also have impacts on health, with studies suggesting loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
While people of any age can feel lonely, as we get older factors such as living alone, bereavement, poor health and reduced mobility can lead to isolation, loneliness and put us all at risk of further ill health.
Our top tips for good deeds this December to help #endloneliness include:
- Delivering a Christmas card to a neighbour living alone and knocking on their door to introduce yourself and having a chat
- Asking a neighbour to introduce you to an older people who lives in your neighbourhood
- Inviting neighbours and friends around for a mince pie and a cup of tea
- Phoning older relatives and friends who you might not see this Christmas
- Doing an older neighbour’s Christmas shopping
- Helping to wrap presents for an older person
- Volunteering to help older people this Christmas. This could include getting involved in a local community group or Timebank. View https://do-it.org
- Helping older people join in social activities. For more details of local activities call Care Network on 01954 211919
- Checking on an older neighbour if you haven’t seen them for a few days to make sure they are in good health
- Helping someone put up their Christmas tree and take it down again
For more tips and information about loneliness, the things you can do and where you volunteer, visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/50000-reasons
Angelique Mavrodaris, Consultant of Public Health Medicine, said: “Loneliness can have serious impacts on people’s health but the good news is that there is something we can all do to help tackle loneliness in our local communities. Your small gestures this Christmas can make a big difference to someone experiencing loneliness at this time of year. Our top tips are really simple things that anyone can do. I’d encourage everyone to look at our #50000reasons webpage to see what they can do.”