Leon and June from Gogglebox, beloved by the nation, have joined Age UK to highlight the plight of many older people this Christmas. A shocking million people can go up to a month without seeing anyone. Loneliness is hard at any time, but even worse at Christmas, a time for loved ones, as the John Lewis Christmas advert also illustrates.
Heinz have teamed up with the Royal Voluntary Service to encourage all of us to check in on an elderly person this winter, as the days darken and the mercury falls. Around 2.9million people aged over 65 live on their own in the UK, and simple acts of kindness can make all the difference to their day. Things like saying hello in the street, stopping for a chat, checking if they need any shopping, dropping round with a box of tea bags and a couple of tins of soup, just because.
Many of us do visit an older person once or twice a week, but there are still lots of elderly people who don't have anyone. Think about those in your acquaintance, could you spare an hour for a chat? Are there neighbours you don't really know but who may be delighted to receive your interest and help?
The girls love to visit our neighbour, Jean, and we often drop things round for her or just pop in to say hi. It's a lovely thing to see young children interacting with an older person and getting to know them, appreciating their history and contribution to the community.
It’s easy to make a difference to someone new this winter. Here are some tips from the Royal Voluntary Service on how you can help:
1. Have a chat with them and ask them how they are.
2. Check whether they have everything they need, especially store cupboard essentials.
3. Share a meal such as a warming bowl of soup with them.
4. Ask if their heating system is working okay and suggest they keep one or two rooms nice and warm instead of trying to heat their whole home.
5. Check to see whether they need any help with technology.
6. Offer lifts to the shops, appointments and social events.
7. Ask if they need help with household chores.
8. Make sure they’ve stocked up on basics and have frequent hot drinks.
9. Check for severe weather forecast warnings from the Met Office and check in on them more during very cold snaps.
10. Check they have torches, a battery-powered radio and spare batteries where they’re easy to find in the dark in case of power cuts.