While Christmas is a time filled with presents and family get-togethers, not everyone is so fortunate to spend the festive period with their nearest and dearest.
For some, Christmas can be the hardest and loneliest time of the year.
Lonely at Christmas
Half a million older people in the UK expect to feel lonely over the festive season and don’t look forward to it, according to a new survey by Age UK, with those who have lost a loved one struggling the most.
The charity’s research found that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of people aged over 65 agreed that the first Christmas after losing someone you love is the hardest, with up to 170,000 elderly people soon to face their first Christmas without their spouse.
But it’s not just the elderly who find this time of year difficult, with one in ten 10 to 17 year old say they often feel lonely, according to research by The Children’s Society.
Young adults aged between 16 and 24 who are most likely to report being lonely than any other age group, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. Being reminded of lost loved ones is predominantly the main reason people feel lonely over Christmas, but anxiety and depression can also stem from feeling left out of all the festive celebrations.
How to combat loneliness
In an effort to help tackle loneliness this Christmas, Campaign to End Loneliness has been sharing tips on social media throughout December.
The organisation is inviting others to join in and share their own ideas using the hashtag #12ways to show how you are ending loneliness with festive fun.
If you are looking for inspiration, here are 12 ideas you can try to help spread a little festive cheer this Christmas.
Half a million older people in the UK expect to feel lonely over the festive season (Photo: Shutterstock)
Take time to talk
Take the time to talk to an older person this Christmas. Saying a simple hello could make a huge difference to someone who is lonely.
Give someone a call
Factor in some time to speak to your friends and family that you won’t be with this Christmas. A 10 minute phone call can have a big impact.
Get in touch with Community Christmas. They can help you to host a Christmas get-together in your community.
Give a neighbour a card
Ring the doorbell and hand a Christmas card to your neighbour, strike up a conversation and make a connection.
Abbeyfield Care Homes
They are opening their doors this Christmas to any older people who want company.
Lend a hand at your local care home
Get in touch with your local care home and ask if they need some support with the cooking or entertainment this Christmas.
Share a mince pie moment
Bake or buy some mince pies and share them with your friends and neighbours at a Great Christmas Get Together. #MincePieMoments
If you’re feeling lonely and want advice
If you’re lonely and want advice and support, download or order Independent Age’s guide to loneliness. It offers simple tips to help you feel more connected.
A spare chair
Do you have a spare chair at your dinner table? Invite someone to join you for Christmas dinner.
For anyone who’s worried about being alone on Christmas Day, comedian Sarah Millican is hosting #JoinIn. It’s a hashtag for people who want company to chat and connect with each other online.
Invite the neighbours
If there’s anyone in your community who might be alone, send them an invite. The more the merrier!
Donate to The Campaign to End Loneliness. As little as £5 can help us build a country where lonely older people get the friendship and support they need.