Surviving Winter Campaign 2019: how Norfolk is helping tackle loneliness this winter
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For many, Christmas is a busy time of year spent with family and friends, but that is not the case for everyone.
The festive season can be particularly lonely for the elderly - especially those isolated after losing a life partner.
One charity in Norfolk is helping combat loneliness and isolation in the heart of our communities with a simple phone call.
The Foundation's Surviving Winter appeal, run by The Norfolk Community Foundation and backed by this newspaper, is providing essential companionship by telephone to people over 60 across Norfolk who find themselves lonely and isolated.
Partnered with Age UK Norfolk, every week people receive a free call for an enjoyable chat with one of the charity's local volunteers or staff members.
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Seven years ago, Kathleen McCarthy made the decision to change her career and signed up to the telephone befriending service.
She said: "I may need support myself as I grow older and I'd like to think that somebody will be there for me, to give me a call to brighten my day.
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"They really enjoy the social contact and I like talking to people too.
"Often people mention other issues such as struggling with their heating fuel costs or issues with care and I'm able to refer them to other departments within Age UK Norfolk for additional support."
These telephone calls are a lifeline for older people in Norfolk, for some it may be the only chat they have all week.
Many of the people using the service have said how much they enjoy their social call, one person said: "I look forward to calls as I feel alone, especially in the winter months. If I did not have the calls I would not speak to anyone."
Another user of the service said: "I really enjoy calls. I lost enjoyment for watercolour painting after the death of my wife but my volunteer suggested painting a tree, which I did, then sent them the picture via email. Now we do this every week and it has inspired me to paint again."
How can I donate?
The Surviving Winter appeal needs urgent help from local people and businesses to continue to provide companionship and support to isolated older people this winter.
Every penny donated will go directly to local charities to enable them to provide essential help to some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk from right now, through to spring.
People can donate online via Norfolk Community Foundation's website.
Alternatively please make your cheque payable to Norfolk Community Foundation and send it to Norfolk Community Foundation, St. James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN, or telephone the Foundation on 01603 623958.
You can also download our donation form here.