Department of Health and Social Care
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Under Embargo until 31/12/09 00:01 - Make a New Year’s resolution to look in on older neighbours

Under Embargo until 31/12/09 00:01 - Make a New Year’s resolution to look in on older neighbours

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 29 December 2009

With many older people living alone and more than 180,000 saying they have gone for a whole week without speaking to friends, family or neighbours, Care Service Minister Phil Hope is asking the public to make a New Year’s resolution to visit older neighbours more often.

Social interaction can protect older people’s mental health, helping to do their shopping will prevent falls and injury and keeping an eye on their health will stop them developing serious health problems and ending up in hospital.

Figures show:

* over a million people over 65 feel trapped in their own homes;
* more than 180,000 have gone for a whole week without speaking to friends, neighbours or family;
* nearly half of all older people (about 4.6 million) consider the television as their main form of company; and
* more than 50 per cent of over 75s live on their own.

Phil Hope said:

"Many older people live alone. For some that’s a choice, for others it means they feel isolated. We are a very caring nation so I’m asking people to make a resolution to look in on their older neighbours more often, to help them with shopping or to simply pop in for a chat.

"Our major aim for the New Year is to build on the care that’s embedded in our society. We’ll be creating a National Care Service which everyone will be able to rely on when they get older."

The Government is already driving forward measure towards making our system of care simpler, fairer and more affordable including helping people to be more independent.

There are many ways to find out about volunteering opportunities:

For more information about volunteering and how to get involved visit

You can also visit Volunteer Centres, which act as a "Job Centres" for volunteers. They can tell you what voluntary work is available locally and put you in touch with local organisations. You can also discuss with them what you want to do and get advice.

With over 300 Volunteer Centres across England, there is a Volunteer Centre in most areas. Visit our Volunteer Centre finder on our website for details of one near you.

You can also look up your nearest Volunteer Centre in the phone directory under 'V' or phone Volunteering England on 0845 305 6979.

There is also an internet database of UK local volunteering opportunities that you can search at .

Justin Davis Smith, Chief Executive of Volunteering England, the volunteer development agency, added:

"Spending a few hours with an elderly person can make a big difference to their quality of life and getting involved with volunteering is easier than you might think.

"You can volunteer informally by visiting an elderly friend or neighbour or if you don’t know anyone, you could choose to volunteer through a befriending project in your local area. To find out what opportunities are available in your area, get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre."

Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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