Befriending at Christmas – No One Should Have No One

No one should have no one this Christmas.

Whether on the tube, the internet, or your television set, you should hopefully by now have seen the latest Christmas adverts from Age UK. Once again this holiday season, we at Age UK London want to remind the capital that “no one should have no one this Christmas”.

Almost a million (982,200) of people aged over 60 feel lonelier at Christmas time, and with over 44,000 Londoners identified as chronically lonely, now is the time to act. This is especially pressing, as research has suggested that loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

A recent survey by Age UK found that 85% of respondents felt more help should be available to older people. Additionally, 63% felt regular visits from a friendly face would be helpful and just under half (48%) felt a regular phone call would have a similar effect.

As a result, we’re urging people throughout London to pledge their support to help combat the loneliness faced by so many older people in the capital.

People just like Roy:

What starts off as a video of fond reminiscence soon becomes a far more somber tale, as Roy discusses his wife’s passing and the isolation he now feels. As Roy (played by actor James Bolam MBE) makes clear, “It’s not easy. Loneliness isn’t easy at all.”

Yet Roy’s tale is especially heart-wrenching for one simple reason – it’s all true.

Roy, aged 83, was one of 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK before he got in touch with Age UK.

“Loneliness is something I have experienced first-hand and it goes without saying how upsetting it can be. My beautiful wife passed away one year ago and not a day goes by when I don’t miss her dearly. It takes some getting used to, going from spending every single day for the past 55 years with the woman I love, to facing each day without her.”

Thankfully, Roy found comfort through Age UK’s befriending service, which sees a volunteer paired with an older person to provide support through companionship. Such assistance can take the form of face-to-face company, but telephone befriending is also a possibility.

Roy has benefitted from both forms of befriending, and has recommended the service to others:

“Joining Age UK’s befriending service has been a great help – my local Age UK helped to set this up and I will be forever grateful. I look forward to my weekly call and visit; I hit it off splendidly with the volunteers I was matched with. I’m feeling much more confident and positive now and would urge anybody who is feeling lonely and missing their loved ones this Christmas to sign up for this service.”

Roy (right) alongside James Bolam MBE.
Roy, who has been helped by Age UK’s befriending service, alongside James Bolam MBE (left).

Although loneliness is an important issue all year long, Christmas can be especially tough, as the holiday season evokes memories of times with friends and family. As a result the isolation feels even harsher.

At Age UK London we believe no one should have no one at Christmas. If you agree and feel you can help the cause, you can consult our list of local Age UKs in London to find your nearest befriending service.

If you are searching for support, you can use this online directory to see which services are provided in your area.

George Harvey

George is Age UK London's Communications and Campaigns Officer.

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