ST ALBANS, England, November 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Christmas for most is a time of festive cheer and being together in the warmth of family and friends. However sadly that's not the case for everyone, and instead a number of older people will spend the festive season alone.
To help combat festive isolation, national charity Abbeyfield has launched a nationwide campaign, Companionship At Christmas - creating an alternative to spending the celebratory period alone.
Actor Geoffrey Palmer OBE, a Patron of Abbeyfield, will officially launch the campaign on 23rd November. He says: "It is so sad that 850,000 older people are chronically lonely and while this is a daily issue, being alone or lonely is particularly heartbreaking around Christmas time."
Abbeyfield is inviting members of local communities with elderly neighbours living alone, family members in need of respite support and those who plan to spend the Christmas period alone to get in touch.
As part of the campaign, the charity is offering over 1000 overnight stays and 2000 delicious Christmas lunches over the festive season (24th December - 4th January) across 104 Abbeyfield sheltered houses - totally free of charge.
Abbeyfield is thrilled to have the support of many organizations for the campaign; from national charity Sense, to the DWP, local County Councils, and The Campaign to End Loneliness. Over 20 MPs and members of the Welsh Assembly to date have also supported the campaign and visited participating houses.
John Coxon from the Department for Work and Pensions 'Redefining Retirement Division' said:
We welcome the 'Companionship at Christmas'- campaign. Too many of today's older people find themselves isolated or excluded from family and friends or the wider community. Christmas for many is a particularly difficult and lonely time of year.
Abbeyfield's Director of Housing, John Crisp comments: "A sad reality is that we all know people who, due to sickness or bereavement, spend a lot of their time alone. However the thought that they might also spend the Christmas period in the same way seems harder to bear, but they need not be on their own."
If you or someone you know are:
- Over 55
- Alone over Christmas
- Currently living independently in your own home
"Companionship At Christmas is offering a lifeline to vulnerable people and we're urging people to take advantage of the support we're offering by visiting http://www.abbeyfield.com or calling 0845-052-3553 today to nominate themselves, someone they know or a family member who may be a long distance from loved ones."
Notes to editor:
Established in 1956 by Major Richard Carr-Gomm, registered charity Abbeyfield was founded with the core focus of helping alleviate loneliness and enhancing the quality of life for older people. Major Richard Carr-Gomm noticed that around Bermondsey, South London many of the older residents were lonely and isolated from the larger community and used his Army pension to develop the first Abbeyfield home.
Today Abbeyfield has over 700 houses across the UK, 80 care house and two nursing homes looking after 7,000 residents.-Abbeyfield has 1,614 staff and around 10,000 volunteers who are involved in the running of Abbeyfield homes.
According to research by the National Office of Statistics, one in three people over the age of 60 years will go a whole week without speaking to anyone, with a staggering one in ten people spending up to a month without any human contact.
The Abbeyfield campaign is an important step to provide fresh hope and an opportunity for older people to meet old and new friends.
The impact loneliness has on the individual is profound, but it also has a serious knock- on effect on society as a whole. The World Health Organisation rates loneliness as a higher health risk than lifelong smoking, with researchers also linking a lack of social interaction with the onset on degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's - an illness which costs the NHS an estimated £17bn a year and has an even higher human cost to families across the country.
Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness said "Christmas is one of the more difficult times of the year for people who are lonely. Abbeyfield's Companionship at Christmas is therefore a vital and personal offer for people who do not wish to spend Christmas alone. Through this initiative, Abbeyfield's hospitality and support in this festive season will continue to promote friendships, good health and independence for people in later life."
For more information on Companionship At Christmas visit the website http://www.abbeyfield.com or call us on our dedicated Companionship At Christmas number 0845-052-3553 to find your local participating Abbeyfield house.