A survey by Age UK discovered more than 108,00 people aged 65 and over in the East Midlands don’t see or hear from someone for days on end, particularly over the winter period and they feel their days a repetitive.
So Age UK Lindsey has launched a campaign which is calling on people locally to pledge their support and donate to help them be there for older people and tackle the loneliness blighting too many lives.
David Taylor, 71, from Gainsborough became a volunteer befriender with Age UK in 2016 after his wife had passed away.
Age UK Lindsey’s Befrienders are volunteers of all ages who live in the local community and who come from all walks of life.
They are willing and committed to making a difference by working with us to deliver a service of benefit to older people.
Befrienders are fully DBS checked and trained.
The Befriending Service is for anyone over the age of 50 living in East or West Lindsey who suffers from isolation and would like more social contact.
David said: “My involvement with Age UK started as a result of their advertising campaign over Christmas 2016.
“My wife had recently died and I realised, although still grief stricken, how lucky I was to live in a close knit community here on the Little London Residential Park Home Estate and to have easy access to friendship and support through my loneliness.
“The Age UK advert made me realise that there are people who do not have such close friends and neighbours and I thought I should give something back, so I contacted the organisation and was quickly accepted.”
David’s role as a befriender means he visits a person, identified by the coordinator as someone who would benefit from regular contact with someone.
David added: “I was allocated a gentleman who is in his mid-eighties and lives alone.
“He is able to care for himself but he is not very mobile.
“Although he has outside interests, most of the time he is housebound. I visit him on a weekly basis for a couple of hours.
“I really look forward to my visit as he is a very articulate man with a wide range of interests and has had a full life so we have plenty to talk about.
“His sense of humour is similar to mine.
“He is very fortunate in that he has family relatively close by who also keep an eye on him.”
Every day the charity hears from people who are experiencing devastating life events such as bereavement, which can give rise to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and loss. Left unaddressed this can cause long-term misery and contribute to the development of serious medical conditions.
CEO at Age UK Lindsey, Andy Storer, said: “Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people over the Christmas period.
“Chronic loneliness is not only horrible to experience day in, day out, it can also have a devastating impact on an older person’s mental and physical health.
“At Age UK Lindsey we are committed to being here year round for older people, to help tackle the loneliness that is blighting far too many later lives.
“There is something we can all do to make a positive difference to the older people around us.”
Age UK Lindsey suggests people have a friendly chat with an older person on the bus or in a shop, or offer to help an elderly neighbour with their shopping if the weather is bad.
These things can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very little cost to ourselves.