Charity fights isolation of elderly

Thousands of lonely pensioners have gone a full month without speaking to family or neighbours in the past year, says research published today.The bleak picture of isolation for many older people comes in a study by charity Help the Aged.

Thousands of lonely pensioners have gone a full month without speaking to family or neighbours in the past year, says research published today.

The bleak picture of isolation for many older people comes in a study by charity Help the Aged. Pensioner groups in Norfolk said many feel physically and mentally vulnerable because they are cut off.

However, there was a glimmer of good news as Norfolk County Council launched an initiative to offer escorted shopping trips which should help more people get out and about.

Launching Help the Aged's “one is the saddest number” campaign, Anna Pearson, policy manager for social inclusion, said: “For many younger people, the thought of being old and lonely is their ultimate fear, yet for thousands of older people in the UK today, it is their harsh reality.

“There is no substitute for human warmth and contact and our aim with this campaign is to ensure older people no longer feel abandoned by society.”

Research conducted by the charity found that nationally, 29pc of pensioners have to rely on family and friends to get out and about, but 200,000 of them are trapped in their homes as they receive no help on a regular basis.

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Help the Aged said 730,000 elderly people are unable to leave their homes more than once a week.

The charity estimated that in 50 years, 7.5 million pensioners could be living alone - the equivalent of more than a third of the elderly population.

Edith Pocock, secretary of the Norfolk and Norwich Pensioners Association, said it was time society tapped the resources of the over-60s.

She added: “There are many younger pensioners who would be interested in doing some voluntary work. It would make sense for them to spend some time helping older people, even if it is just to visit for a cup of tea or help with a trip to the shops.

“These people would have the reward of knowing they are helping somebody but would also know that they would have the same support as they advance in years.”

This Christmas, Help the Aged aims to provide 25,000 festive meals for older people to enjoy with friends at day centres across the country. It said a £4 donation would cover the cost of a meal, which would have a huge impact on an older person's enjoyment of the season, and was campaigning to raise £100,000 before the end of the year.

Older people who use Norfolk's teleshopping service will get the opportunity to take part in escorted shopping trips. Teleshopping, which is a countywide service for older people, was set up as part of the At Home, Not Alone project. Teleshopping is a grocery shopping and delivery service from the comfort of your own home and does not require a computer, only a phone.

Now the service is about to host the first escorted trips for eight members from Norwich and Broadland areas to Tesco at Harford Bridges.

Chris Mowle, cabinet member for adult social services, said: “Teleshopping is going from strength to strength and offers older people a valuable service which helps them to remain as independent as possible. The escorted shopping trip is the latest initiative from the teleshopping team and I would like to thank Tesco for their sponsorship.”

Teleshopping has more than 60 shops signed up to the scheme and 100 shoppers around the county.

To find out more, call 0844 800 8014.

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