When you think of Christmas, you probably think of a time for giving, for sharing and for spending time with loved ones.
Whilst all families’ Christmas traditions vary, it’s likely that at some point you will be planning to sit down surrounded by those you love to tear open the wrapping paper on carefully-chosen gifts, sit down to tuck into a hearty freshly-cooked feast and crash in front of the TV for re-runs of Only Fools & Horses or to watch Miracle on 34th Street for at least the 34th time.
However your day pans out before the obligatory afternoon nap brought on by over-indulging on Bucks Fizz, turkey and mountains of accompaniments that don’t seem to exist throughout the rest of the year (pigs in blankets, anyone?), the one thing you know is that you will be spending it in the company of those you treasure the most.
Sadly though, not everyone is looking forward to Christmas with so much cheer - their spirit saddened, no doubt, by the knowledge that they will be spending the celebrations alone. In fact, recent figures reveal that a staggering 4 million peoplei in the UK face sitting down for Christmas dinner on their own this year, despite 2/3rds of us wanting to help out.
For elderly people, the reasons for being alone this Christmas are vast-ranging. Bereavement, low income, lack of public transport, loss of mobility, fear of crime and poor health are among the issues that can see an elderly or vulnerable person on their own on Christmas Day. Surveys have also suggested that, in some cases, elderly people have found themselves alone because they have refused to let anyone know of their situation with many considering themselves a burden to family members. ii A recent survey from Age UK explained that between 8 and 10% of older people will be feeling very lonely indeed.
And it’s not just the elderly who face the festive period alone. The younger generation is certainly no more immune to the sting of spending Christmas on their own than any other, with figures suggesting that some will even choose not to socialise because they are ashamed of not having the income to lavish others with gifts or spend on celebrations to mark the festive season. A recent survey suggests that 30% of 18 - 24 year olds will feel lonely, despite not actually being alone.
Whilst you’re thinking of the wonderful Christmas that awaits surrounded by love and cheer, spare a thought for those who could be alone at this emotional time of year - and maybe you can help to make a difference.
If you know of neighbours that are elderly or live alone, knock on their door and offer to help. Maybe they could do with a hand getting in some Christmas shopping? Would they perhaps appreciate some support putting up decorations? Do you have food to spare to feed an extra mouth on the day of goodwill? Or would it be too much to ask to send a Christmas card just so they know that there’s someone thinking of them?
A simple phone call to check someone is ok can make the world of difference, whilst charities and food banks are crying out for donations to spread some festive cheer to those less fortunate. You can join Age UK’s campaign to end loneliness in the elderly. A desperately sad fact that a million older people in the UK haven’t spoken to anyone in a monthiii
Christmas is certainly not a time to be alone, so don’t let anybody you know be lonely this Christmas. Show some real festive spirit and let them know there’s somebody who cares.
Have you helped out anyone in need this Christmas to stop them feeling alone? We’d love to hear your heartwarming tales.
Article Code: BLA20156