contact the elderly

giving back.jpg As parents, we owe it to our children to show elderly people that we care. One day, we too will be old and who knows if we will be lucky enough to still have family and friends around us? We will be extremely lucky if we do.
They would have kept their heads down, denied knowledge of the envelope's existence, and not reached out to help that person as I had done. But if we opt for the former, what is the message we're passing on to future generations?
It is an unlikely friendship. He's pushing 90, blind and not as quick on his feet as he used to be. She's not yet four, and until recently rarely said a word. Now she has found her voice and she has plenty to say for herself. Within moments she is holding the elderly gent's hand and he is laughing out loud. If he's not careful she'll soon be helping herself to the cake from his plate.
What the UK is experiencing is a loneliness epidemic. It is the sheer number of older people suffering from loneliness and social isolation which blights the UK's position as one of the best places in the world to grow old. This isn't going away or getting any better, and it's not something we can shy away from.
Age UK are compiling a report to show how human rights principles, such as dignity, fairness, equality and respect, can make a big difference to older people's lives.
I am 26. I met Rachel, an 86-year-old British Ghanian, through an elderly befriending scheme in Islington. We've been chatting, sipping tea or shandy and half-watching Home and Away every week for the past two years.
I would urge the government to remember and build on what has been achieved in creating happiness for others across the country. Contact the Elderly has, for the last half century, been injecting joy into the lives of lonely older people by combating isolation.
In short Policy Exchange's proposed answer to loneliness does not tally with the experience of frontline services like Contact the Elderly, who provide older people with face to face contact. Instead we need a solution-driven approach to tackling the problem at hand.
The Health Secretary has declared a national emergency and we offer a tried and tested solution with your help, as volunteers - monthly drivers and annual hosts or as sponsors of our Golden Jubilee Appeal - so we can extend our hand of friendship to many more of the neglected million older people.
For many guests the happy occasions of spending one afternoon per month having tea with a group of older guests and volunteers, are the only cross on the calendar. Contact the Elderly would like to draw public attention to what complete isolation feels like and what people can do to help solve the problem.
Reading and hearing reports in the media each day, it is impossible to deny that there is increased awareness of the issue of loneliness and isolation in older people in the UK. Since I founded the charity 49 years ago, Contact the Elderly has been actively involved in combating loneliness, providing over a million face-to-face friendship links via our monthly tea parties
For isolated older people in the UK there can be periods of days, weeks, even months where they see no one in person. Family may have moved, partners may have passed away and mobility may be limited.
Imagine a life where a visit from the postman might be the only human contact you have all week. For those of us who work in a busy office this is hard to imagine, but for many older people, it's a grim reality. Loneliness is a devastating problem in the UK and has a crippling effect on older people who endure it, day in and day out.