ALONE, the charity that helps older people to age at home, recently launched its Winter campaign ‘Share the Warmth’ at the Westin Hotel with Joanna Donnelly, Met Eireann Weather Presenter and ALONE service users.
The charity has continued to see a sharp increase in demand for its services as the number of older people living alone and/or living in poverty continues to rise.
The aim of the campaign is to ask people to share their warmth this Christmas, the warmth of friendship and companionship as well as financial support so that the organisation can help older people with the spiralling cost of living.
Older people are among the most at risk from the implications of soaring energy costs, rising food prices and poorly insulated housing. Moreover, older people during the pandemic reported a decline in their mental health and suffering from loneliness. ALONE also noted that the number of older people living in poverty or at risk of poverty is over 100,000. We also know that a recent RED C Poll finds that 80 per cent of people plan to keep heating off at times even in cold weather.
ALONE CEO, Sean Moynihan says “We have had to continue to grow our services in response to an ever-growing demand. We are urging everyone to be mindful of older people in our society this winter, not only due to the economic repercussions of the worst cost of living crisis in almost 40 years but that many older people, particularly those who are living alone are impacted by loneliness. We know from a recently published piece of research that we commissioned, that our support and befriending volunteers improved the health of older people, but also that loneliness is a complex issue that is widespread across society. We will never be able to eradicate it, but we can reduce the harshest impacts that it can have, on older people in particular.”
ALONE recently partnered with the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications on its winter response plan and is working to keep all older people safe and warm this winter in the face of huge increases in energy costs. The partnership will focus on mobilising and coordinating a whole-of-community response to the cost-of-living crisis this winter.
Met Eireann weather forecaster Joanna Donnelly launched the organisation’s Christmas Campaign, to encourage members of the public to take a few minutes out of their day to interact with their older neighbours and relatives who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness as the festive season approaches.
She commented, “I’m delighted to be helping ALONE launch their Christmas campaign this year, to spread awareness of such an important issue. I admire the work that they do with older people and I’m so happy to be a part of such a positive message. Loneliness and isolation can be serious problems for older people and dropping in for a chat or helping a neighbour with their shopping could make all the difference to their mental health. We’ve all felt alone at certain times in our lives, sometimes all it takes is a cup of tea and a chat to really lift an older person’s spirits. A few minutes may not mean much to you, but to a lonely older person it could be the highlight of their week.”
“As we age, it can be more difficult to reach out to people for companionship; a lot of older people might be embarrassed or too proud to admit that they are lonely. Unfortunately, a side effect of ageing is that we can lose the people we love. Spouses, friends, family can pass on and sadly, many older people can be left feeling like they are all alone in the world. What might only seem like a quick chat to you can make an older person feel loved, appreciated, and like they are part of the community. So often, older people are full of life, with a wealth of knowledge and stories to share. Christmas provides people with the perfect opportunity to drop in on older neighbours and relatives for a chat.”
Sean Moynihan went on to say “We are looking for people to respond to our call to action to help us help older people who need our services. This can be done by volunteering your time, spreading the word, or even making a donation. We do not want anyone to be alone or anxious this Christmas and you can be the difference.”
ALONE will once again embark on the delivery of Christmas hampers and Christmas Dinners to older people across Ireland. Last year, ALONE also delivered over 700 dinners on Christmas day. Numbers that the charity hopes to top once again this winter.
If you or someone you know needs support this Winter, please call our National Support and Referral Line on 0818 222 024 from 8am – 8pm, seven days a week. ALONE operates 365 days a year so we will be there to take your call when you need us most.