National charity Friends of the Elderly is calling on people in Dorset to hold Christmas Day activities in their community, so no older person will be alone unless they want to be. As official partners of Community Christmas, the charity hopes that more people than ever before will get involved in 2016.
With more than a third of older people living in Dorset affected by loneliness*, and around half a million older people in the UK saying Christmas day is when they feel most lonely**, Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are asking people to give the gift of time by organising an activity on Christmas Day.
Tony Smith, 61, doesn’t have any family and usually spends Christmas Day alone, watching TV. Last year, thanks to Community Christmas, he attended a Christmas lunch and also enjoyed an afternoon of entertainment and games. He said: “It was the first time Christmas actually meant something to me; it was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”
Last year, 13 activities in Dorset were registered with Community Christmas, including Christmas Day lunches in Bournemouth, Swanage and Poole. But even more are needed to reach as many older people as possible. Organising an activity is easy – it’s not just about the turkey dinner, you could get people together to watch a Christmas film, share a cup of tea and a mince pie in a local pub, or enjoy a Christmas Day walk.
Jo O’Boyle, Director of Engagement at Friends of the Elderly, said: “Friends of the Elderly is delighted to be working with Community Christmas again this year to support older people facing Christmas alone. We know that loneliness can have a devastating impact on older people’s lives and those we work with tell us that becoming isolated from a day community they were once part of can be especially difficult. That’s why we’re calling on individuals, organisations and businesses to put on activities on Christmas Day to bring together older people in their community who don’t want to be alone.”
If you’re organising an activity on Christmas Day, or know of one in your area, contact Community Christmas so it can be listed on the website making it easier for older people to know what’s happening in Dorset. Whatever you decide to do, you will help make sure more older people, who would otherwise be alone, have something to look forward to on Christmas Day.
For more information please visit: www.fote.org.uk/christmas