The boss of a student support service in Salford has appealed for people to reach out for help as the number of people spending Christmas alone is set to soar.
As many as 1.7 million people in the UK say they expect to spend Christmas alone this year. According to the figures revealed in a new opinion poll for the Observer, the number of people expecting to spend Christmas alone has risen from four% last year to eight% this year. The figure for those over the age of 64 spending Christmas alone has risen from 7% to 14%.
This Christmas more than any other year before, community support is vital.
Ian Boardman, Director of Student Experience & Support at the University of Salford stressed the importance of using the support services that Salford City Council have in place for Salfordians this Christmas season.
He said: “Salford City Council run what they call the Spirit of Salford helpline.”
The Spirit of Salford helpline has been set up by Salford City Council to help those who are struggling during this time. The helpline offers support and advice on issues Salfordians may be facing at the moment. They can help with getting prescriptions, shopping visits, looking after pets and more.
The helpline number is 0800 952 1000. You can also access support via SMS on 07860 022876.
Mr Boardman added that there are a variety of public and voluntary organisations that provide support whether it’s due to loneliness, food supplies or those affected by Covid-19 in self-isolation.
There are also a number of well being resources aimed at the population of Salford. These resources are provided by local charities and can be found at https://www.salford.gov.uk/spiritofsalford.
Many people across Salford are volunteering for a greater good this Christmas and Mr. Boardman emphasises that no problem is too small to reach out about.
He mentioned: “You might not want to bother the NHS or charities or the local authority in your neighbourhood because they’re so busy. Don’t think along those lines, nothing is too small to flag.
“Don’t bottle it up, reach out”.
Listen to Mr. Boardman’s full interview below for more information on support available for the people of Salford and students at the University of Salford.
I spoke to people across Salford spending this festive season differently to any year before.
Georgina Jennings from Higher Broughton won’t be able to see her two daughters and great grandchildren this Christmas.
Ms Jennings said: “I feel awful about not seeing my family. I am truly gutted but I know that it is for my own safety.
“I’m finding it really hard but I am grateful that I get to speak to my family on the phone”.
The 71-year-old remains hopeful for the future and can’t wait for the day that she can see all of her family again.
Cheryl Sweeney who was born in Salford is spending this Christmas alone. However, she is focusing on the positives.
Ms Sweeney said: “I miss my family so very much but we have to keep safe.
“I have carers that come to my house so I am very lucky in that way. I also have my little dog at home to keep me feeling positive.
“I’m afraid to go outside now because I’m so used to staying in. I cope better staying inside because of the fear I have about coming out”.
It’s not just older generations spending the festive season alone this year.
Molly Matthews, a student at the University of Salford is spending this Christmas in her university accommodation to protect her at risk grandmother.
Molly said: “I don’t want to take any risks, it’s simply just not worth it to me. Coronavirus cases are higher in Salford than they are at home in Southport.
“It’s really scary to think about putting my Granny in danger. I can’t wait to give her a hug when all of this is over”.
Molly’s Christmas day plans include making a mini Christmas dinner, spending time with her family via FaceTime and getting out for fresh air in Salford.
Almost 138,000 older people in the North West are expected to experience loneliness this Christmas according to AgeUK’s research. So pick up the phone and ask for help, nobody is ever alone.
For more information on support available for Salfordians visit: https://www.salford.gov.uk/spiritofsalford