Appeal to help lonely older people

As well as vowing to stay off the booze and doing away with cigarettes, Britons should make new year resolutions to help lonely older people, a charity said.

Just nipping round to an elderly neighbour's home for a cup of tea could help combat loneliness, the Royal Voluntary Service said.

The charity, alongside care and support minister Norman Lamb, also encouraged people to take older people out to buy groceries and to give a helping hand with household chores.

The RVS said more must be done to help the nation's 2.5 million people who "often" feel lonely.

Experts say loneliness causes serious physical and mental harm. The Department of Health says loneliness has been estimated to be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Mr Lamb said: " As the Christmas festivities draw to a close, many older people will be facing a lonely January, spending days without seeing or speaking to anyone. Some may have even spent Christmas Day alone.

"Every one of us can take action to combat loneliness. If we all make a resolution to help an older person this new year we will give them the companionship they deserve in their later years and will help to build a fairer society."

David McCullough, chief executive of the RVS, said: " It's perhaps easy to see why things we try to give up fall off the priority list, despite good intentions. Aiming to try something new, such as volunteering, is something to look forward to and I guarantee it will not only help others but make the people who volunteer happier too.

"Even a small amount of time, just an hour a week to spare, can make a huge difference and be really interesting and rewarding too. We would encourage people to make a new year's resolution list that's worthwhile this year and focus on what they really want to say they've achieved by this time next year."

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