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News 21 December 2016 l Health & wellbeing

Volunteering helps to combat loneliness among older people

As a national provider of housing for older people, we’re constantly exploring ways to tackle the growing problem of loneliness and isolation.

Loneliness is a particularly poignant issue when families and friends traditionally come together to share the celebrations at specific times of year, as illustrated in Age UK’s latest television advertising campaign.

Last year some of our estates took part in Community Christmas, a charity that aims to ensure no older person needlessly spends Christmas alone. Founded from the volunteering experiences of Caroline Billington in her local area, the initiative has grown from a very small number of events in 2011 to over 300 in 2015, with Big Lottery Funding awarded along the way. We’re encouraging our estates to take part this year too, so that residents who would like some company at Christmas can have access to this. The charity has found that ‘87% of older people want a traditional Christmas spent in company’ and is encouraging those who would like to help to get in touch with them on 0800 063 9285.

Other great initiatives include Contact the Elderly’s Be Our Guest, comprising free monthly tea parties on Sunday afternoons for people who are 75 or over and who live alone. With over 670 groups in England, Wales and Scotland there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help out.

Couple Socialising 1

Many Hanover staff members volunteer locally in their communities, and Sandra Jeffrey who is based at our Chippenham office says: ‘Since February I’ve been spending one afternoon a month helping out as a driver for my local Contact the Elderly tea party group. It’s very rewarding to see how much everyone enjoys these parties. It’s not a huge time commitment, only around three hours once a month, however the impact it has is far reaching. I can highly recommend taking part.’

Information on becoming a volunteer can be found on the Contact the Elderly website.

Other volunteering opportunities include the Royal Voluntary Service’s Good Neighbours where neighbours spend around one hour per week with an older person and Community Transport where volunteers assist with transporting older people to GP or hospital appointments and to trips into town or to the shops. Age UK also encourages volunteers to spend time with an older person each week via their Befriending Services.