In a rural area like the High Peak, Christmas can be lonely for some people but help and support is out there so no-one has to suffer.
Katy Pugh, chief executive for Age UK Derby & Derbyshire, said: “Loneliness can be devastating and is a huge issue affecting people all year round with 140,000 people aged 65-plus in the East Midlands describing themselves as always or often feeling lonely.”
It is not just the elderly who feel loneliness; people who have spilt from their partners or live away from their family can also be affected by the problem.
The Voluntary and Community Services Peaks and Dales, based on Eagle Parade in Buxton, will be offering a free Christmas Day service.
Transport manager Howard Gunn, said: “Christmas is a time for people to be with their families and with no public transport people may not be able to get about, so we have some drivers who will be volunteering and offering the service.”
People aged over-65 or with a disability will be given lifts first, with others being put on a list. To book, call 01298 23970.
St George’s Parish Church in New Mills will be hosting a Christmas Day lunch. A spokesperson said: “No-one should be alone at Christmas. Come and join us for Christmas dinner with turkey and all the trimmings and share a fun time together.”
The event will take place in the parish hall, on Church Lane. Diners should arrive at 1.30pm for the 2pm meal, and a vegetarian option is available.
Suggested donation is £5, or free if money is a problem. For catering purposes, all places need to be pre-booked and allergies highlighted.
For more information or to book, call 01663 749323.
High Peak Foodbank is not serving a Christmas meal, but an out of hours emergency service will be providing basic supplies to help people over the period.
Throughout the county there are befriending services which team up lonely people with another person who visits them regularly. Age UK is a member of the Derbyshire Trusted Befriending Network and one Derbyshire woman, Sarah, uses the service after recently losing her husband after caring for him during a long illness.
When she joined the scheme she was feeling very lonely, isolated and anxious, and was finding it difficult to leave the house. Sarah’s wellbeing was very low and she had recently spent some time in hospital – so she had now lost her confidence.
Since using the befriending scheme Sarah now feels happier, more confident, and less anxious. She feels that the help from the befriending scheme has meant that she now has the confidence to leave the house and looks forward to going out with her volunteer befriender for tea and cake.
She said: “It is important to have a friend to take the loneliness away. Someone to talk to, and above all have fun.”
There is also a befriending scheme running from the Volunteer Bureau in Buxton.
John Lewis are working with Age UK to try and raise awareness of loneliness with their advert Man on the Moon, and Bisto are working with Contact the Elderly to encourage people to sign up to ‘Spare Chair Sunday.
This is where families offer a seat to a person who would otherwise be eating on their own.
To host a Bisto Spare Chair Sunday, you need to have a downstairs toilet and easy access to your house. To get involved, visit www.bistotogetherproject.com.