CHRISTMAS is traditionally a time spent with friends, family and loved ones, exchanging gifts, having fun and sharing lots of food, but with over a million elderly people experiencing loneliness, the festive season may not be so merry.

Margaret Overton, 89, of Clifford Court, has not had a visitor in months. Her family live over 200 miles away in London and find it difficult to visit regularly meaning she is on her own most of the time.

“The other ladies here have sons or daughters who come regularly and take them out for a coffee or to do the shopping. My son had to relocate for his job and unfortunately it can’t be helped.”

The whirlwind Christmas season can easily go on around older people particularly if they don’t regularly see anyone or attend groups in their communities who provide support.

This year Stepping Hill Hospital is leading a new project in partnership with Age UK’s ‘no one should have no one’ campaign and is looking to provide help and support to the local elderly community with the donation of Christmas hampers and festive volunteers.

“I’ve always been very independent,” explained Margaret. “But I think people forget that time goes by and I can’t manage everything myself anymore.

“Going to the shops is proving more and more difficult especially with the cold weather and my arthritis. Last week I had to carry my shopping up three flights of stairs because the lift was broken. I cried when I reached the top.”

In sheltered housing, such as Margaret’s, cutbacks have significantly effected the support provided by the wardens.

“The manager of the home tries her best but she also looks after three over residencies in the area.

I lost two of my closest friends earlier this year who I often met with or spoke to when I needed someone, so that makes things even harder now.”

To donate a hamper please visit any of the drop off zones at Stepping Hill Hospital or to become a ‘festive volunteer’ please visit http://www.ageuk.org.uk/no-one/

By Emma Pearce
@EPearce7

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