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Millions of over 65s say they have nobody to turn to for help and support

PUBLISHED: 05:30 07 November 2018

Children at an Age UK Suffolk day centre in Sudbury talking to older people about their lives in a bid to give them help and support. Picture: ARCHANT

Children at an Age UK Suffolk day centre in Sudbury talking to older people about their lives in a bid to give them help and support. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Millions of people over the age of 65, more than the entire population of Birmingham along with 15,000 in Suffolk, feel they have nobody to turn to for help and support.

That’s the view of a national charity with the issue being described as “heartbreaking” by one of its main supporters.

Age UK estimates that 2.65 million people over the age of 65 face their problems alone.

Jo Reeder, head of Fundraising and Marketing for Age UK Suffolk, said: “When circumstances change, which can often be extremely sudden, it can be very difficult for people to know where to turn for support. Often these people are so isolated, sometimes even from their very immediate communities, that they become desperately lonely.

“We know that over 15,000 people aged over 65 in Suffolk say that they are ‘often or always lonely’ – going for a month or more without having a meaningful conversation with another person. This is a shocking statistic and the reality is that these feelings of absolute loneliness can be very detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the individual.

“At Age UK Suffolk, our services are directly set up to tackle these issues. In short, we need everyone to look out for vulnerable older people in their area and tell them that there is help available.

“The message that ‘no one should have no one’ couldn’t be more true and there is an onus on all of us to be able to do something to combat this – after all, it could be you one day.”

And Ann Osborn, director of the Rural Coffee Caravan which also helped to set up the MeetUpMondays events across the county, said there are many organisations which can help people but that a big proportion of the over 65s do not know how to access the services.

She said: “These people love being out and about like normal people but the biggest problem for them is they do not know about the help that’s available.

“Some have family who can help them but a lot either don’t have a computer or access to the internet and it’s not easy to get to a library for them. They need to be able to access the information.”

When asked: “Do you ever feel like you have no-one to go to for help or support?”, 23% of over 65s answered “always, often or sometimes”, according to a poll of more than 1,000 British adults aged 50 and over.

Among those who felt they had no-one to turn to, almost a quarter said this left them feeling lonely, 22% said they felt isolated and one in five said it made them depressed.

The charity released the findings to mark its new campaign to encourage people to support their services for the elderly, such as its Age UK Advice Line.

It said that last year it helped 210,000 callers deal with issues including bereavement, tackling loneliness, getting social care support and managing health problems like dementia.

Backing the new campaign, Dame Judi said: “We all know that ageing is inevitable, but it’s heartbreaking to think of older people who feel they have no-one they can turn to.

“Age UK is working hard to change this and by supporting their ‘No-one should have no-one to turn to’ campaign you can help them to be there for older people who might have no-one else.”

Age UK’s charity director Caroline Abrahams added: “We have a rapidly ageing population and it is heartbreaking to think that more than two and a half million older people feel they have no-one to go to for help - that’s more than the entire population of Birmingham.

“The fact is that getting older can be really tough and however resilient you are it’s important to know someone will always be there for you, come what may.

“That’s what we aim to be for older people at Age UK and we know it makes a huge difference, especially for those with literally no-one else they feel they can ask for help.”

To support the campaign visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/noone or to contact the charity’s Advice Line, which is open every day of the year from 8am to 7pm, call 0800 055 6112.

MEETUPMONDAYS AT THE GOLF

The Golf pub, in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, is to become another venue for the MeetUpMondays event.

It is to start greeting people on Thursday, December 6, from 11am to 12.30pm, making it the sixth location of its kind in Ipswich adding to those already at the Golden Hind in Nacton Road, the Greyhound in Henley Road, the Kingfisher in Hawthorn Drive, the Smock in Maidenhall Approach and La Tour Cycle Cafe.

Ann Osborne, director of the Rural Coffee Caravan, said: “Hopefully it will get a good take up and it looks like it will be a good venue.”

There are currently 40 already set up in Suffolk along with six in Essex and another in Northern Ireland and Ann added: “We have another 10 on the back burner and the people who attend say how much more fun it is to be in a pub and being able to choose local activities.”

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