How you can help the half a million older people who spend Christmas alone

Loneliness and isolation unfortunately is a reality for many older people in the UK all year round.

Older people are hit even harder at Christmas, which can be the loneliest time of the year for them.

Here are just some of the facts (source: Age UK):

  • In the UK, more than half of all people aged over eighty are lonely
  • About 3.8 million older people live alone
  • Half a million older people spend Christmas alone
  • 70% of these are women over 65
  • 17% (480,000) said that Christmas brought back too many memories of those who had passed away.
  • Almost 2 million people (18%) are worried about not being able to get out and about as much because of shorter, darker days and poor weather conditions.

This is shocking.

To help combat the problem, the NHS has called for an army of good samaritans in England to become a ‘Winter Friend’ to neighbours who may be at risk during cold weather.

At Casserole Club, we’re committed to reducing loneliness, so we’re encouraging people from across the UK to become a Winter Friend and share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day.

If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate & Banstead, sign up today and we’ll match you up to an older person – not just for Christmas, but over the winter period so you can build a warm relationship throughout the cold winter months.

If Casserole Club isn’t currently in your area we’d still love you to sign up so we can let you know when we’re live in your area.

Casserole Club and other support services can help reduce loneliness and isolation , but it is you – the people and the communities across the UK – that play the biggest part.

Sign up now to get cooking »

If anyone is worried about an older person this winter, you can also call the Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 for expert advice on staying warm and keeping well. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, 7 days a week.

Photo: j thorn explains it all / flickr

Caring at Christmas: 5 Ways to Help This Winter

Caring at Christmas: Casserole Club in the Big Issue

We love sharing stories of how our wonderful Cooks help through Casserole Club and like it even more when our brilliant community helps spread the word for us.

Our friends at The Big Issue included Casserole Club in their special bumper Christmas issue in an article called “Caring At Christmas”

Our fantastic Cook Oruj was quoted talking about her experience of Casserole Club. Here’s what she had to say:

“I wanted to do something after a neighbour passed away. She suffered a heart attack and feel down the stairs and no one noticed for three days. It made me realise this could happen and I was so wrapped up in my own life that I wouldn’t even notice.

I decided to contact Casserole Club. I started cooking for an elderly woman called Munna whose family live far away. She’s a wonderful, feisty Bengali woman and we see her at least once a week.

We’ve got to know her very well and my two little girls and me will take her out for the day. Very rewarding”

We loved the other tips included in the article, so we’ve published the top 5 here:

5 Ways to Help This Winter

  1. Pop in and see (or call on the phone) an older friend or relative regularly
  2. Do your bit to help out when the cold weather hits, from clearing paths to getting the shopping in for an older neighbour
  3. Get a free thermometer and “Winer Wrapped Up” advice guide from Age UK by calling 0800 169 65 65 and pass to an older friend
  4. Sign the NHS “Winter Friends” pledge to do your bit looking out for neighbours by visiting nhs.uk/WinterFriends
  5. Suss out volunteering opportunities with local groups or Age UK, Contact the Elderly, Independent Age, the royal Voluntary Service or Friends of the Elderly

These are all great tips, so make sure you sign up to Casserole Club if it’s live in your area or pledge help out this winter by doing one of the above.

And if you spot a Big Issue vendor this Christmas, make sure you buy a copy of the magazine. It’s only £3, is a bumper edition especially for Christmas, and you’re be giving someone a hand up, not a handout, this Christmas.