Our sustainability stories

Why we’re supporting older people at Christmas

Loneliness can be devastating. But at Christmas it can be particularly hard for older people. Whilst most people are spending time celebrating with family and friends, there will be hundreds of thousands of older people who will spend Christmas alone.

25 Nov 2019

  • Half a million older people across the UK expect to feel lonely at Christmas
  • More than 530,000 people aged 65 and over aren’t looking forward to Christmas because for them it’s ‘just another day’
  • 225,000 often go a whole week without speaking to anyone

Although loneliness is by no means an inevitable part of ageing, difficult life events that many experience as people get older, such as bereavement, serious illness or reducing mobility, can all be triggers for becoming more isolated and feeling lonelier.

That’s why we’re supporting Age UK and Age Cymru’s Winter Celebration events this year.

Both Age UK and Age Cymru supports community groups throughout the UK and Wales to organise events that encourage and support older people to get out and about and socialise.

The events are often quite simple affairs such as Christmas lunches, theatre trips, or visits to food markets and are organised by existing groups of older people such as lunch clubs or older peoples’ forums, who are invited to bid for up to £200 from the charities to help fund their event.

Christmas grants: how they help

In Birmingham

A group in Birmingham put on a much-needed Christmas meal for a group of older people, many of whom are widowed and would be spending Christmas alone, so that they could catch-up with friends and enjoy time in the company of others.

In Merseyside

Older people, most of whom were spending Christmas alone, were invited to Christmas Forums, whereby they could come along and socialise with others at a time when they might otherwise be feeling especially lonely. The group also provided Winter Warmth packs, which provided tips about keeping warm over winter as well as practical items such as LED lightbulbs to help keep costs down when older people are more likely spend more on heating and electricity.

In Teignmouth, Devon

A group were putting on a Christmas party for older people (including a three-course meal and visit from Santa), yet a number of older people who had mobility issues would potentially miss out. The funding helped put on transport so they could join the party – which was really valued as it can be particularly hard for older people when everyone else is celebrating and they can feel especially isolated and lonely.

In Wales alone:

  1. 220,000 older people in Wales claiming to have felt lonely during later life
  2. 100,000 people aged 65 and over in Wales speak to three or fewer people they know.
  3. 330,000 older people in Wales claiming a few minutes of conversation would make a huge difference to their week.

We’re looking forward to hearing about some of the groups across the UK and Wales this year’s Winter Celebration events have helped and the difference they have made to the people they have supported. Hopefully, providing some Christmas cheer, friendship and fun.

We’ll update you in the New Year.