Older people’s charity Re-engage has launched an online events directory and a telephone befriending service to keep older people connected with the outside world as part of its Community Christmas campaign.
Re-engage is inviting hospitality venues to list their opening hours and events during the festive period for older people likely to spend the season alone. The charity aims to actively match over-75s to events in their area to ensure more older people are able to enjoy the festive season.
Call companions is a free service for older people who live alone and feel they could do with a friendly phone call every week or two. A volunteer call companion phones at an agreed time and each call lasts for half an hour or so. The charity matches the older person and volunteer, so they have interests in common. Older people living alone or in sheltered housing who have difficulty getting out and about in normal times are eligible for the service.
In 2019, more than 250,000 people aged 75 and over reported that they were not looking forward to Christmas because for them it is ‘just another day’. With the ongoing health crisis and lockdown restrictions, this number is likely to increase, as many more are left unable to travel to see their families this winter.
Meryl Davies, CEO of Re-engage said:
Winter can be physically challenging for older people and with the added pressures of Christmas and festive cheer, this can add an emotional toil. And we know that this Christmas is going to be particularly hard. Many of our older guests are bereaved and have found that their support networks have diminished as they’ve aged. Throughout the year, our aim is that all older people should have opportunities for friendship and companionship and we believe Christmastime is no exception.