At a time when many people are searching for the top 10 gifts for gadget lovers, ideas to treat Mum and the best gifts under a fiver for the office secret Santa, there will be around 500,000* older people who are all alone. If we all work together and give the alternative gift of friendship this Christmas, we will help make the festive period less lonely for older people.
National charity Friends of the Elderly supports Community Christmas, a charity which encourages communities to hold lunches and events on Christmas Day for older people. Last year, the movement meant that an estimated 5,000 older people didn’t spend Christmas alone. Whilst this is an amazing achievement, there are many more people who did spend the day on their own. That’s why Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are looking for more co-ordinators to organise an event or activity in their local community this year. Find out how to get involved here - www.communitychristmas.org.uk.
Those who are unable to host an event can still Be a Friend and consider how they can share the spirit of Christmas with lonely older people who live near to them. Eighty three percent** of people surveyed by Friends of the Elderly understand that Christmas is an especially difficult time to be alone – which re-emphasises how important it is to reach out to older neighbours.
The Mixed Group Christmas Party
Photo reproduced by permission from The Mixed Group
• When out and about, wish an older person you meet a ‘Happy Christmas’ and stop for a chat
• When writing Christmas cards for friends and family, write an extra one for an older neighbour then drop it round in person
• Invite an older neighbour over for a drink and a mince pie, or for a festive drink at your local pub
• If you know they’ll be on their own this year, ask an older neighbour to join you for Christmas dinner
• Christmas isn’t just about the turkey dinner – invite an older neighbour for a walk, to watch an afternoon movie or an evening of board games
• Whether you’re off to the pantomime, the Christmas market or a carol service, invite an older neighbour to join you and your family for a festive day out
• Ask an older neighbour to join you at a Boxing Day football match, or to come over watch the fixtures on TV
• Encourage your local community to do more this Christmas for the older people around you
*Royal Voluntary Service predicted in 2014 there would be 490,000 older people who would spend Christmas alone.
** Results from a survey commissioned by Friends of the Elderly in 2014.