As we approach the end of 2016, and another Christmas is almost upon us, the feeling that the yearly festivities are starting ever-earlier is hard to dispute.
Indeed, being someone who prefers not to think too much about Christmas until mid-way through December, I’ve found it difficult to avoid the festive cacophony. Many people would argue that it’s this phenomenon that makes many feel even more alone than ever.
According to the charity Age UK, nearly one million people in the UK aged over 60 feel lonelier at Christmas time. That is not to say that loneliness cannot affect people at any stage of their life, but certainly the problem is particularly acute for the elderly, and is most prevalent at Christmas.
I recognise that many older people will perhaps by too shy, or even embarrassed to seek companionship during times of loneliness. Some may be unable to do so at all. That’s why it is so important for all of us to confront the stigma of loneliness and offer what support we can.
What may seem like a small gesture to some – waving to a neighbour, or offering someone a hand to carry their bags – can make a huge difference to those who are afflicted by feelings of isolation.
By reaching out to someone this Christmas, you can help bring festive cheer to those who need it most.
Age Scotland can be contacted on 0800 12 44 222.
A local befriending service based in Stevenston called the HOPE project, part of the Community Led Action and Support Project (CLASP), can be contacted on 01294 463 444.