Department of Health and Social Care
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Make a New Year’s resolution to help an older, lonely person near you

Many of us commit to getting fit or quitting smoking in the New Year, but for 2014 we should also make a resolution to help a lonely older person, the Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and the older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service said this week.

At the beginning of 2013, 6.2 million people said they were planning to try something new and volunteer, according to research by the Royal Voluntary Service; however the research also shows Britons are twice as likely to fail with their new year’s resolutions.

In light of this, the Care and Support Minister, Norman Lamb, and Royal Voluntary Service have come together to call for everyone to make a commitment to help combat loneliness for an older person near them in 2014.

There are lot of simple ways people can help, such as:

  • popping round to an elderly neighbour’s for a cup of tea

  • taking an older person shopping to buy groceries

  • giving an older person a hand with anything from gardening to household chores

  • accompanying an older person on an activity they are passionate about, such as dancing or singing

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

As the Christmas festivities draw to a close, many older people will be facing a lonely January, spending days without seeing or speaking to anyone. Some may have even spent Christmas day alone.

Every one of us can take action to combat loneliness. If we all make a resolution to help an older person this New Year we will give them the companionship they deserve in their later years and will help to build a fairer society.

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said:

It’s perhaps easy to see why things we try to ‘give up’ fall off the priority list, despite good intentions. Aiming to try something new, such as volunteering, is something to look forward to and I guarantee it will not only help others but make the people who volunteer happier too.

Even a small amount of time, just an hour a week to spare, can make a huge difference and be really interesting and rewarding too. We would encourage people to make a new year’s resolution list that’s worthwhile this year and focus on what they really want to say they’ve achieved by this time next year.

Royal Volunteer Society research shows Great Britain’s good intentions go to waste

One in three Britons think volunteering is good for your health and one in 10 think they should volunteer to gain work experience and skills. This year, 5.1 million people (11% of the population) have identified volunteering for a good cause as one of their plans for 2014.

However, the research by the charity shows that the number of people who said they were currently volunteering (for any organisation) at the end of 2013 only grew by 2%. This is despite the 2012 Olympic Games fever that led to one in five people at the beginning of 2013 saying the Olympic Games had made them think more positively about volunteering.

Surprisingly, young adults (18 – 24 year olds) are twice as likely to keep their resolutions, than any other age group aged 35 and over.


  1. Loneliness causes serious physical and mental damage. According to the Department of Health, loneliness has been estimated to be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and twice as damaging as obesity.

  2. The call to action was announced as statistics show 2.5 million older people often feel lonely, that more than half the people over 75 live alone and a fifth of them often go an entire day without spending time with anyone. And about 5 million older people consider television their main form of company.

  3. Through its army of 40,000 volunteers, Royal Voluntary Service helps over 100,000 older people with services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that help alleviate loneliness. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services.

  4. To volunteer or find out more about Royal Voluntary Service or to sign up as a volunteer call 0845 608 0122 or visit their website.

  5. For media enquiries please call the Department of Health press office on 0207 210 5447 or the RVS press office on 07714 898 704.


Embracing our differences