The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland is encouraging individuals to ‘give the gift of time’ to combat loneliness amongst older people this Christmas.

For most of us Christmas is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ but for many older people, experiencing loneliness is a sad reality during the festive season.

Charity, Age UK, published research carried out in 2021 which states 1.4 million older people in the UK are expected to feel lonely at Christmas.

Loneliness affects older people for many different reasons, such as bereavement and loss of a loved one, illness, living too far from relatives or because of social isolation; all of which can feel heightened during the festive period.

This Christmas the Commissioner is encouraging people to make connections with older people through his campaign ‘give the gift of time’, as being present often means more than gifting presents to someone experiencing loneliness.

The Commissioner for Older People, Eddie Lynch said:

“Loneliness and social isolation is something that older people in Northern Ireland have highlighted as a key issue they want my office to address during my term as Commissioner.”

“This Christmas I feel strongly about encouraging connections with older people, as the last number of years have been exceptionally challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic and now with the cost-of-living crisis, a large proportion of older people are particularly feeling the effect.”

“I am worried this year many families may be reluctant to celebrate in the same way, which could result in a surge of loneliness over the festive period.”

“No one should be lonely at Christmas time. If you know someone who may be alone over the next number of weeks, reach out in any way you can, as even the smallest gestures can make a difference to someone experiencing loneliness.

This could be something as simple as lifting the phone for a chat or delivering Christmas cards in person to a neighbour.”

If you, or someone you know is experiencing loneliness this Christmas, there are a number of services who are there to help over the festive period.

Age UK Confidential help line: 0800 055 6112

Age UK Telephone Friendship Service

The Silver Line Confidential help line: 0800 470 8090

Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) 0808 196 3646

The British Red Cross 0808 196 3651

Independent Age 0800 319 6789

Campaign to end loneliness

Samaritans 116 123