Contact the Elderly has declared a state-of-emergency as the number of socially isolated older people reaches breaking point.
The charity’s call for action follows a new study by Qa Research which revealed that almost one in five (19%) of the older people Contact the Elderly supports joined the charity because they rarely saw another person.
With the number of neglected older people at an estimated one million and growing quickly, the charity is taking the issue into its own hands.
It has launched a fundraising appeal to enable it to reach more older people who hardly ever see anyone else.
Contact the Elderly Founder and Chairman Trevor Lyttleton said: “Loneliness amongst older people has reached a state of emergency and must not be ignored.
“For almost 50 years we have been focussing on providing a cost-effective solution, yet the demand for our service has never been so high.
“We know our formula of tea and conversation works, but we simply cannot reach out to the people that desperately need our help without increased volunteers and funding.”
Supported by a network of volunteers, Contact the Elderly offers a vital lifeline of friendship to those aged 75 and over who live alone.
Its regular Sunday afternoon tea parties enable older people across the country to receive much-needed human contact.
The Qa Research survey identified key loneliness triggers such as marital bereavement (22%) and lack of mobility (51%).
A total of 80 per cent of guests said they felt happier after joining one of the charity’s groups.
More than three-quarters (78%) of the older people surveyed feel less lonely as a result of the monthly tea parties.
And 96 per cent said the tea parties give them something to look forward to.
Richard Bryan, Managing Director of Qa Research, said: “Other studies we’ve conducted on the issue of loneliness has shown that gatherings where people share food, drink and conversation go a long way to alleviating a condition that can affect the health and well being of millions of older people in this country.”
With almost 50 years’ experience, Contact the Elderly knows that the solution to loneliness can be as simple as a regular face-to-face chat over a cup of tea.
Mary Rance, CEO of Contact the Elderly, said: “It is shocking that we have 1,200 older people on our waiting list desperately in need of our help.
“By its nature, social isolation often means that the loneliest people are the hardest to reach. By spreading the word we can find these older men and women and offer them our vital lifeline of friendship.”
The charity has launched its Power Of Contact appeal to reach those on its waiting list – and thousands more whose lives can be transformed by its work.
With its own social media hashtag, #powerofcontact, the appeal aims to raise funds to extend Contact The Elderly’s reach.
To support the appeal, text POWR15 and the donation amount to 70070.