Don't be lonely at Christmas
2018 - December, Latest news
This time of the year can be tough on people who live alone. Many cultures have family celebrations but people with few or no relatives can find themselves feeling left out and isolated from the festivities.
PA Housing has a wonderful record of arranging events for its residents to ensure nobody is left alone. Some of the projects our Independent Living Teams have arranged are:
- Coffee mornings and tea afternoons
- Dance sessions
- A knitting circle that creates items such as baby blankets for a local hospital
- Christmas lunch for residents who would have been alone
- A charity fashion show.
Our Digital Transformation Project also helps by encouraging those without computer skills to get online. Being connected to the digital world broadens opportunities; boosts social inclusion; opens doors to education and communication; reduces isolation. Mr and Mrs Sharma of Abbey Mill, Leicester are great examples of this approach. After attending one of our Digital Drop-In Sessions, they not only use our app to access our online services they now are able to Skype their family in India.
But it’s not just at work when inclusion is important. Loneliness is bad for your health - both physical and mental. Research has shown that it can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke; makes people more prone to depression; and increases suicide rates - particularly among older people.
More than a quarter of households in the UK now have only one person. It's currently 7.7 million people, and predicted to rise another two million over the next 10 years. Around 2.2 million of them are over 75, although the fastest growing group is 45-64 year olds: empty nesters, newly separated or widowed.
Loneliness is not restricted to older people. The Campaign to End Loneliness has also highlighted the fact that disabled people, carers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people from ethnic minorities, and those with long-term health problems, are much more likely to be lonely.
Advice from the Campaign to End Loneliness
- Take the time to talk to an older person this Christmas. You could be doing your shop at the supermarket, at the pub or out for a walk. But just say a simple hello and it could make a difference to someone who’s lonely.
- Take the time to speak to your friends and family that you won’t be with this Christmas. A ten-minute phone call can have a big impact.
- Ring the doorbell and hand a Christmas card to your neighbour. Start a conversation and make a connection. Why not take some mince pies too?
- Do you have a spare chair at your dinner table? Know a neighbour who might be alone? Invite them to join you for Christmas dinner.
For more information visit their website at www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/