National charity Friends of the Elderly is calling on people to organise Christmas Day activities, so no older person will be alone unless they want to be. As official partners of Community Christmas, the charity hopes that more people than ever before will get involved in 2016.
Last year, 370 activities were known to have taken place in the UK, making Christmas day memorable for more than 7,000 older people. But with a third of older people living in the UK affected by loneliness*, there are millions more who may have had no choice but to spend the day alone.
Tony Smith, 61 and from Nottingham, doesn’t have any family and usually spends Christmas Day alone, watching TV. Last year, thanks to Community Christmas, he attended a Christmas lunch and also enjoyed an afternoon of entertainment and games. He said: “It was the first time Christmas actually meant something to me; it was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”
Organising an activity is easy – it’s not just about the turkey dinner, you could get people together to watch a Christmas film in a community centre, share a cup of tea and a mince pie in your local pub, or invite people to join you on a Christmas Day walk.
Last year, Fliss Middleton, who’s 64 and lives in Leicester, organised a meal in Blaby on Christmas Day for local older people who otherwise wouldn’t have anywhere to go. Fliss said: “It was a great day. We even had a lady celebrating her 90th birthday with us – wouldn’t it have been awful if she had not only spent Christmas day by herself, but her milestone birthday alone too.”
If you’re organising an activity on Christmas Day, or know of one in your area, contact Community Christmas so it can be listed on the website making it easier for older people to know what’s happening in their local area. 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.
Jo O’Boyle, Director of Engagement at Friends of the Elderly, said: “Friends of the Elderly is delighted to be working with Community Christmas again 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 day 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 or telephone Community Christmas on 0800 063 9285.