National charity Friends of the Elderly worked in partnership with the charity Community Christmas during the 2016 festive season to tackle loneliness among older people, by identifying and promoting hundreds of activities taking place on Christmas Day.
As a result of hard work and determination by volunteers and businesses across the UK, more than 600 activities were organised and registered with Community Christmas; providing an estimated 11,000 older people, who would otherwise have spent Christmas Day alone, with the option of enjoying the festivities with people in their local community.
As well as people visiting the charity’s website to search for activities, Community Christmas matched more than 140 older people, who contacted or were referred to the charity directly, with activities happening in their local communities.
Tony Smith, 61, has attended a Christmas Day lunch in Kirkby-on-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire for two years. He said: “The lunch was initially a complete shock to the system – having spent all these years on my own. But it was like one big happy family. I am really looking forward to going each year.”
Caroline Billington, Founder of Community Christmas, said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who organised an activity or volunteered on Christmas Day to support those like Tony who otherwise would have spent the day alone. An impressive number of events took place and hopefully connections were made within communities that will last through this year and beyond. However, unfortunately there were still thousands more older people who we were unable to reach, so if you’d like to get involved this Christmas, please do get in touch.”
Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are now encouraging people to start thinking about organising an activity for Christmas Day in 2017. For more information visit www.fote.org.uk/christmas or call 0800 063 9285.