Older people up and down the UK are knitting up friendships this Christmas that will last long after the last strand of tinsel is taken down.
The Big Christmas Knit, organised by older people’s housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society, isn’t just about making something cosy to wear over the winter months, but about creating companionship for lonely older people in the community.
Abbeyfield homes and houses across the country have set up ‘knit and natter’ clubs to welcome people into a warm, homely environment, where above the clatter of knitting needles the chatter of voices can be heard, as older people make friendships that will take them into the New Year and beyond. Loneliness is a real blight on elderly people’s lives at any time of year but especially over the festive season. Nearly half of older people – 49% – say that the company of others would be one of the best gifts they could receive this Christmas. The figures, which Abbeyfield commissioned from YouGov, highlight the reality of loneliness and isolation that so many older people face during what should be one of the happiest times of the year.
Abbeyfield is also aiming to combat the isolation and loneliness felt by millions of older people with its annual Coping at Christmas campaign.
Now in its fifth year, Coping at Christmas provides a lifeline of warmth and companionship to millions of older people who would otherwise be facing the prospect of spending the festive period alone.
Abbeyfield chief executive, Natasha Singarayer said:
“At Abbeyfield, being part of the community has always been central to us, but at Christmas it becomes even more important to reach out.
Our figures show that almost three million older people aren’t looking forward to Christmas while six in 10 people aged over 65 say Christmas is the hardest time to deal with the loss of family and friends.”
Coping at Christmas, which is being backed by singer, TV and radio presenter Aled Jones as this year’s campaign ambassador, will see Abbeyfield houses and homes across the country open up their doors to offer free events, festive meals, overnight stays – and vitally, good company and friendship – to over-55s who are facing the prospect of spending Christmas alone.
There are now more over-60s in the UK than people aged under 18 and nearly half of Britain’s over-75s live alone. Loneliness is a very real problem that can cripple people’s quality of life.
“Abbeyfield absolutely believes that older people should not have to spend Christmas alone.
Both the Big Christmas Knit and Coping at Christmas provide ways for Abbeyfield residents, volunteers and staff to offer warmth and companionship for lonely older people and simply to make time for them throughout the festive period and beyond.”
• The Abbeyfield Society’s Coping at Christmas campaign applies to people who are over 55 and will be alone over Christmas. To find out more about Coping at Christmas contact Abbeyfield on 01727 734 066.