There are growing concerns of loneliness and isolation in the UK - in part down to an ageing population. The pang of loneliness is often more prominent during Christmas time, with it being the season for family and friends coming together. But for many people they spend Christmas Day alone.
Some families struggle to balance the responsibility of bringing up young children and spending time with elderly parents and relatives. Busy lifestyles and jobs are often a barrier and with more of us using technology as a form of communication, the older generation may be suffering with loneliness as a result of less face-to-face time with family members. But we can’t also forget those who don’t have any family, living alone, day in and day out.
This loneliness and social isolation is having a negative impacting on people’s health and wellbeing. In a recent poll conducted by Bisto and Contact the Elderly, it was found that a third of people over 70 eat alone every day, with Sundays being the worse day for feeling lonely. And while 49 per cent say a good roast is their favourite meal, four out of 10 will eat a roast less than once a month with loved ones.
Whilst there are befriending networks and charities that provide services to help combat loneliness, it’s important to keep an eye out for those in need of support - and perhaps just some company (particularly for those spending the festive period alone).
Bisto and Contact the Elderly launched an initiative called Spare Chair Sunday, to encourage UK households to sign up to offer a ‘spare chair’ at a Sunday roast at least once a year in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue.
Helping to raise awareness across Christmas, Brendan Cox launched an appeal in memory of his wife Jo Cox; The Great Christmas Together initiative, Mince Pie Moments, urges people to share a mince pie with a lonely neighbour or somebody they know who would appreciate a smile and a bit of a chat over Christmas.
In addition, Good Morning Britain is working with Age UK on the 1 Million Minutes campaign, which will run throughout December to help those who are experiencing loneliness.
Studies have shown loneliness to be as damaging to health as smoking and obesity. It’s also putting unnecessary, additional pressure on our hard-pressed public services.
There are 1.9 million older people across England who experience loneliness, feeling ignored or invisible - so it’s important that people get involved to help reduce this.
We at The Key Safe Company work with the industry to try and allow the elderly or those sick to keep their independence and allow carers, friends and family members easy access to homes with our Supra C500 KeySafeTM. The Key Safe offers a secure and safe solution for access to elderly relatives’ homes to ensure they receive the care they need while living independently. But it’s important to make an effort to visit older relatives and neighbours, particularly during the cold months and the festive period.
So we are asking everyone this year to join in with the Bisto Spare Chair campaign, the 1 million minutes campaign and The Great Christmas Get Together for a Mince Pie Moment, and pop into your neighbour’s home if you know they are alone and check they are ok. A five-minute chat over a mince pie to check on their wellbeing, could just make their Christmas.