Christmas is traditionally a time to spend with family and friends, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year will be difficult for many of us.
It is predicted that twice the number of people will spend Christmas alone this year, particularly those over the age of 65. According to Age UK Solihull, around 254,000 older people in the West Midlands are expecting to feel lonely this Christmas.
There are ways to make a world of difference to someone who is on their own this festive period simply through a phone-call, virtual catch-up or even saying hello through the window.
Of course, loneliness is an issue for many people throughout the year, not just at Christmas, and there is plenty of support all year round to get people connected.
The Chatty Café Scheme is a great opportunity to establish social connections. Three virtual Chatty Cafés are held every week via Zoom, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. People of all ages can enjoy a virtual natter face to face.
The British Red Cross helps people of all ages cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation. Their free and confidential helpline is available on 0808 196 3651, between 10am-6pm every day.
Age UK Solihull has increased their telephone befriending service to provide additional support to those older people experiencing loneliness or isolation due to the pandemic. The Linking People Together Team can be contacted on 0121 704 7846.
The charity Re-engage provides ‘call companions’ – a free service for older people who live alone and feel they could do with a friendly phone call every week or two. People can apply online or call 0800 716543.
The Silver Line provides information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year via their helpline on 0800 4 70 80 90.
For those with a terminal illness and for those that care for someone who is terminally ill, the Marie-Curie Helper Service can provide companionship and emotional support over the phone during the pandemic. People can find out more about the service on 0800 304 7405.
Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health and Deputy Leader, Councillor Karen Grinsell, said: “We can all help tackle loneliness in our community. Please look out for people who may be struggling and reach out, safely of course, it really will make such a difference.
“Good social connections are important for both our physical and mental wellbeing. If you are feeling lonely or know someone who is, please get in touch with someone who can help.”