1. ITV Report

How to help someone who is lonely this Christmas

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Liz Summers

Christmas is traditionally a time for us to be with our loved ones to spend some much needed quality time together. But for some it can be a lonely time of year.

A recent survey revealed that two fifths of people speak to their neighbours less than once a week or month.

The impact of social isolation can be significant; research suggests being lonely can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can be far worse than obesity and physical inactivity.

Credit: PA Images

Hertfordshire County Council has come up with a list of things people can do to help the elderly and vulnerable in particular.

  • 1. Write or deliver their Christmas cards
  • 2. Help put Christmas trees or decorations up
  • 3. Helping wrap Christmas presents
  • 4. Invite an elderly person living alone for a chat
  • 5. Help them with their Christmas shopping
  • 6. Share a meal
  • 7. Take an elderly neighbour to a Christmas party
  • 8. Help put out the bins
  • 9. Join a befriender scheme
  • 10. Help them join a local social club

"Christmas is a great time to volunteer for organisations that help support older people.

"They offer "befriending" schemes for those who are isolated and one-to-one contact as a telephone "buddy", visitor or driver, or hosting social events for groups.

"You can simply do one weekly phone call or home visits for a chat and to help with shopping, or even host a coffee morning."

– Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health

Christina Hammond, 56, who has spent nearly 10 years as a volunteer for the 10 to 3 Club in Hitchin.

"I've always loved chatting to older people and this seemed like an ideal position. We have our Christmas lunch today and will be singing lots of carols.

"In fact, one of the things we enjoy most is singing. We also have reminiscing days themed around school, work or perhaps experiences in wartime.

"The elderly who come to us are mostly in their 70s, we have one lady who is 95. It does really help those who are lonely or isolated. "It usually takes about a month for them to settle, at first, they are nervous and a bit tentative. For many this is the only social outing they have all week.

"I love it especially when they say thank you to me because they have had such a lovely time."

– Christina Hammond, Volunteer
Credit: PA Images

Statistics reveal that people aged over 80 are twice as likely to report high levels of loneliness than any other adult age group.

If you are worried about a friend, neighbour or relative who might be lonely or at risk of loneliness, here is a selection of links that may help you: