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Call for Christians to be better neighbours to lonely older people this Christmas

by Eno Adeogun

Pat Johnson, who is holding a Christmas day event for elderly lonely people in her church in Northampton, told Premier why she and her husband have been motivated to hold the event for the past 30 years.

She explained: "I say to the volunteers that come to help - especially at lunch times when everybody is sitting down and everybody is 'chat, chat, chat, chat', I say 'if you wonder what you're doing here, just listen to everyone in the room'.

"If they weren't here, they'd be sitting in front of the television on their own, not talking to anybody."

Her comments echo a new Age UK study that found almost a million older people say they feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time.

The survey also found that 55 per cent rely on the TV for company over the festive period.

Mrs Johnson told Premier why Christmas can be difficult for older people.

She said: "They had more immediate family around them because granny lived around the corner and so and so lived up the street.

"Some of its thinking back to that time when things were a really cosy Christmas... a family time whereas nowadays, families are more fragmented."

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She emphasized that Christians need to step-up to the plate to help counter loneliness in elderly people.

Explaining how this can be done, she told Premier: "Neighbours aren't the same as they used to be.

"But if you're Christians, I hope you sort of know your neighbours, or somebody attached to the Church.

"You may not be able to be with them for Christmas day but if you can invite them into your home that's fine, or visit them on Christmas day."

She said for those unable to do that, they can still at least send Christmas cards as it says 'thinking of you'.

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