The gift of companionship

Older people don’t have to be lonely this Christmas as Abbeyfield prepares to open its doors to those facing the festive season on their own

Christmas for most people is a time of cheer and being together with family and friends. Sadly, however, that’s not the case for everyone, and a growing number of older people will face spending the festive season alone.

To help combat this increasing trend in festive isolation, charity Abbeyfield is launching a nationwide campaign, Companionship At Christmas – a home from- home alternative for older people wishing to spend the festive period with others.

Abbeyfield is inviting older people who are alone over Christmas, residents with elderly neighbours living alone and family members in need of respite support over the Christmas period to get in touch.

Actor Geoffrey Palmer, who is a spokesman for Abbeyfield’s Christmas campaign, says: “It is so sad that 850,000 older people are chronically lonely and while this is a daily issue, being alone or lonely is particularly heart breaking around Christmas time.

“If the offer of free lunches and overnight stays over this time at an Abbeyfield house brings a bit of festive cheer to just one older person faced with spending the Christmas holidays alone, it will be worthwhile.”

The charity wants to hear from people who are over 55, are currently living independently in their own home and who will be alone over Christmas.

Abbeyfield chief executive Paul Allen says: “Our mission is simple; to enhance the quality of life for older people.”

It is a stark reality that in this day and age, charities such as Age UK have to highlight that many people, especially OAPs, will this winter have to choose between either heating their home or eating, and sadly this is even more poignant over the Christmas holidays.

Abbeyfield’s Companionship At Christmas initiative echoes the key mission of Abbeyfield to alleviate loneliness and recognises that the mind, body and soul are all of equal importance.

The campaign has already received the backing of a number of MPs, other charitable organisations and local authorities charged with taking care of the elderly around the country, who agree that the scheme provides an invaluable lifeline to older people.

To find your nearest participating Abbeyfield please contact 0845 052 3553 quoting The Sunday Telegraph – or visit