Abbeyfield launches Companionship at Christmas campaign to tackle loneliness in older people.
Offering a cosy place to stay without the numbness of waking to an empty house; a comforting homemade meal and a festive party with none other than Aled Jones MBE as the turkey carver.
These are just some of the ways in which national older people’s housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society is looking at tackling loneliness in people aged 55 and over as the Christmas countdown begins in earnest.
Sadly, an estimated 500,000 older people are expected to spend Christmas alone in the UK.
Launching on Thursday November 16 is Abbeyfield’s annual Companionship at Christmas campaign which offers older people affected by loneliness the chance to share physical, emotional and spiritual warmth during the festive period and beyond.
Up and down the country, Abbeyfield houses will open their door providing free overnight stays, meals and entertainment.
Abbeyfield patron Aled Jones will be bringing Christmas early to the charity’s Victoria House in Kew, London Borough of Richmond, on Monday November 27 where he will be supporting the campaign with a Christmas sing along for residents and older people living alone in South West London.
The popular singer and presenter will also be helping carve the turkey at a Christmas lunch Abbeyfield are hosting in County Durham for 100 older people living alone in North East England on Tuesday, November 28 at The Kingslodge Inn, Durham City, County Durham.
Aled Jones, MBE, said: “I’m very much looking forward to sharing an early Christmas with Abbeyfield residents and getting into the Christmas spirit! Christmas is a time of love and sharing and no one should be alone at Christmas.”
Abbeyfield chief executive David McCullough said: “The Christmas build up resonates with excitement and celebration for many of us, yet it’s a time when older people can feel at their most isolated and alone. Their usual clubs or activities close down for Christmas, relatives are dotted across the UK far away from them and feelings of bereavement for lost loved ones is amplified at a time when families traditionally come together.
“Abbeyfield was founded over 60 years ago in response to the crippling loneliness endured by a forgotten generation of older people. That ethos continues today with campaigns such as Companionship at Christmas as Abbeyfield continues to enrich the lives of older people and make their later years happy, easy and more fulfilled.
“If you or anyone you know is worried about being alone over Christmas, please do get in touch with Abbeyfield and join in the free Christmas events and celebrations happening across the country over the festive period.”
Now in its eighth year, Companionship at Christmas has offered a lifeline of warmth and friendship to thousands of older people at Christmas, such as 83-year-old pensioner, Ron Hoverd who lives on the Isle of Wight.
He and his wife Mary were inseparable during their 45-years of marriage. The former RAF corporal was at Mary’s bedside when she died. Her death left him devastated and struggling to cope.
Ron said: “I couldn’t have had a better woman which made losing her so difficult. I watched her die, which was heart-breaking. After the funeral I reached rock bottom and was struggling to get by. I was so lonely. Mornings were the worst. Everything was so quiet. No one to say good morning to and waking up to the emptiness of the house.”
For Ron, who has no immediate family, Christmas was one of the most difficult times.
“There’s nothing worse than being on your own at Christmas,” he said. “You know you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, but you’re sat there by yourself, wishing the day would end.
Age UK put Ron in touch with his local Abbeyfield House in Cowes, where staff invited him to join them for Christmas Day lunch. Since then, Ron has become a regular at Abbeyfield Clifton House. An avid gardener, he volunteers to help make sure the house’s grounds bloom and enjoys a homemade lunch several times a week. But more importantly, he thrives from having the company of other around him.
“It’s a lifesaver from my point of view. It means so much having Abbeyfield there.”