New research undertaken by MHA, one of the largest charities for older people in Britain, indicates that those aged over 75 years old only have meaningful contact for 80% of the week* This, on top of the fact that 49% of over 75s live alone**, highlights the chronic issue of loneliness and isolation amongst older people in the UK.
MHA is using this statistic to help launch its annual Christmas fundraising appeal, which support its loneliness-combating Live at Home schemes across England, Scotland and Wales.
Good Deed-cember focuses on providing and facilitating meaningful interactions for isolated and lonely people within our communities. The appeal calls on the public to remember their older neighbours, friends and relatives at Christmas time, asking them to do a good deed and donate money to MHA’s 57 Live at Home schemes around the country.
The national launch took place in Leeds Grand Arcade on Thursday 30 November 2017 when passers-by were invited to sign Christmas cards for MHA to send to its members and residents across its Live at Home schemes, care homes and retirement living communities, as well as support the campaign.
Rothwell Live at Home volunteer Stuart Beaumont (80) runs a men’s group, which he is also a member of. He said: “They look forward to coming. It’s not a question on a wet and cold winter’s day of putting their feet up, it’s a question of coming along and joining in.”
In addition, its campaign film featuring Live at Home member Marian Wright, has been viewed 145 times since its launch. Marian said: “The Live at Home scheme and the people have brought me back to being ‘me’ again. I realised I was no longer alone. They are a great group of people. I like to laugh.
“If I wasn’t with Live at Home and was still sat in my own home, I don’t know what I would have done. Everybody sees a difference in me. My daughter said to me ‘it’s lovely having my mum again’.”
The first Live at Home scheme opened almost 30 years ago in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Today, they provide company and support for 10,336 older people through a number of initiatives, including group lunches, befriending schemes, days out, exercise and fitness classes and much more. Each scheme provides slightly different services shaped by their members, but all have the shared goal of eliminating isolation and loneliness amongst older people and are supported by volunteers.
All funds raised go directly to MHA’s hugely successful Live At Home schemes to support its members.
*Study conducted amongst 104 participants Meaningful contact is defined as contact had with other people. This includes any face-to-face or telephone conversation that lasts for over two minutes, plus email, text and social media, regardless of length.
**Age UK Loneliness Evidence Review