Top tips to help reduce loneliness this Christmas

Published: 12 Dec 2017

Christmas can be an incredibly isolating time for people who may live alone or have family living far away. A recent survey revealed that more than a quarter of people never speak to their neighbours.

As the weather grows colder, many older people start to feel isolated and lonely. While anyone of any age can feel lonely, as we get older we are more at risk of it contributing to ill health.

We know the impact of social isolation can be significant; research suggests being lonely can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can be far worse than obesity and physical inactivity. 

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said: “No one should be alone at Christmas, or indeed at any other time of the year. We are calling on people to take time out over the festive period and beyond, to check in on older and vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives to make sure they are warm and well.

“We can all do something small to make a big difference to someone who needs some support. This could be as simple as helping someone get the Christmas tree down from the loft or helping them write Christmas cards.”

Here are ten easy tips to help an older person during the festive season; support our campaign to #endloneliness:

  1. Write or deliver their Christmas cards

  2. Help put Christmas trees or decorations up

  3. Helping wrap Christmas presents

  4. Invite an older person living alone for a chat

  5. Help them with their Christmas shopping

  6. Share a meal

  7. Take them to a Christmas party

  8. Help put out the bins

  9. Join a befriender scheme

  10. Help them join a local social club

 Cllr Wyatt-Lowe added: “If you’ve got time to spare and you’d like to help someone, Christmas is a great time to volunteer for organisations that help support older people. You can do one weekly phone call or home visits for a chat and to help with shopping, or even host a coffee morning.

“Remember loneliness isn’t just a problem at Christmas, so please keep an eye out for your neighbours all year round.”

Louisa, a volunteer with Age UK from Harpenden, said: “My mother-in-law lived with us for the last four years of her life when she became very dependent. It made me realise how lonely older people can feel and this inspired me to volunteer to spend some time with the elderly. It also opened our family’s eyes to the challenges of getting older.

“Age UK introduced me to Margaret in January 2017. I visit her once a week and spend about an hour with her. We chat over tea and sometimes go into town to get a coffee. I recently accompanied her to the Senior Forum. Margaret is a lovely lady and very independent. She is passionate about jigsaws and I look forward to seeing which one she has completed each week. She also loves reading, colouring, Sudoku and finding amusing news in the papers. We plan to have a Pensioners Christmas lunch in a local pub next week.

“We enjoy each other’s company chatting about the latest news, our lives and experiences. Margaret never tires of hearing about my family life and will always offer a helpful suggestion or two when I share something with her. It’s great to feel that I’m giving something back whilst also having an enriched life. We all need to look out for the elderly in our community. One day we may be in their situation.”

If you are worried about a friend, neighbour or relative who might be lonely or at risk of loneliness, HertsHelp can help you find out about support that may be available. Call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 or email