Do you know of someone who will be alone this Christmas? Do you know somebody who will be sleeping rough? Is there something we could all do to help? In this short blog, I will give my views on being alone in the festive period and what we can do to help.
Christmas is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year where family and friends come together to give gifts, celebrate and spend cherished time with their loved ones creating memories. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everybody in the world, some people are alone, not surrounded by loved ones and to them Christmas is just another day on the calendar now. When most are waking up excited and happy others are cold, sad, depressed and alone. This happens to people of all age ranges, religions and genders although it most common among the elderly.
Some don’t even wake up in a home with a Christmas tree. The homeless must sleep rough on Christmas Day & will be cold with nothing to eat, drink or even someone to talk to. Others may be alone at Christmas due to circumstance. They live far away from their families and struggle to travel around this time of year. On the other hand, others may choose to be alone at Christmas, they may not celebrate the holiday, or they might even like to avoid large gatherings to celebrate.
Christmas is a time for giving and sharing with others, this doesn’t only have to be to friends and family, why can’t we give to those who will be alone or are homeless?
Facts & Statistics on Loneliness
17% of older people are in contact with their family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month (Victor et al 2003). Over half (51%) of people over the age of 75 live alone (ONS, 2010). Two fifths of older people say that the television is their main company, this is around a staggering 3.9 billion people (Age UK, 2014)! Loneliness however can affect all ages; it is caused by a lack of social connections. This is known to be harmful to our health and can be comparable to a risk factor of early death such as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is also stated that loneliness effects out health more than obesity and physical inactivity.
There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. To be sat in a room by yourself may mean you’re alone but not necessarily lonely whereas on the other hand you could be in a room full of people and still feel lonely because you don’t know how to communicate and engage in conversation with others. Loneliness is never a good thing, especially this time of year. Christmas is a time for family, friends and celebration, nobody should have to spend their day alone and/or feeling lonely.
One study concludes that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia. It is also known that lonely people are more prone to depression. Many people are alone at Christmas time from the elderly to the homeless. There are charities such as the Salvation Army who take people in on Christmas and serve them meals, give them warmth and somebody to talk to who is in the same boat they may be.
My views on being alone at Christmas
I believe that nobody should have to be alone or feel lonely especially at this time of year. I have a friend who recently went around Wolverhampton town and purchased hats, scarves, gloves as well as food and drinks for the homeless around this period, especially with how the weather has been lately with all the snow. I think this is a great gesture and more of us could do this to help the homeless. There are also options to help those who are alone but not homeless. Charities such as Age UK and the Salvation Army have volunteers who go around to the elderly’s homes and create events at local community centres, so people can gather to have dinner together, chat together and just keep each other company in the Christmas period. This does a lot of people good getting them out of their homes and doing something different. All most people want around this time is someone to talk to and be around, that’s not too much to ask for. I can’t even imagine a Christmas without my loved ones where we usually gather at my aunties house with a buffet and drinks to celebrate. Seeing all of my younger cousins and my nephew is something that makes me very happy.
If you know someone who is going to be alone and Christmas, you can contact Age UK and The Salvation Army on the following details;
Age UK – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/contact-us/
Thank you for reading.