It's an unfotunate yet indisputable fact that the number of older people spending Christmas alone is on the rise. Research recently conducted by the Royal Voluntary Service has confirmed that nearly half a million older people will be alone on December 25 this year - that's an increase of more than 100, 000 people in just one year.
The most common reason cited for this sad situation is family living far away or even overseas, with improvements in technology meaning a video phone call or similar may well have replaced the traditional Christmas visit.
Thankfully, charities are coming to the rescue, with the aim that nobody should have to spend Christmas alone if they don't want to.
The Royal Voluntary Service have joined forces with Community Christmas to list all the events and activities open to older people on Christmas day. This could be anything from an organised Christmas lunch to an informal inviation to watch a film or play bingo.
If you are hosting an event, or even have a free space at your table, you can add your notification to the website for free. Visit www.communitychristmas.org.uk to view the list and add your events.
Felicity Kendal (pictured) wholeheartedly backs the campaign. "Christmas Day is a time for celebration, friends and family," she says. "It is heartbreaking to think of half a million older people sitting on their own, while the nation enjoys themselves. Let's show older people we do care and make sure they know there are invites waiting this Christmas."
'Let's show older people we care'
Happily, awareness is on the rise, and another of the many community-driven initiatives this year is The Abbeyfield Society's Coping at Christmas campaign. Across the UK, Abbeyfield centres will offer festive meals, overnight stays and companionship to anyone over 55 who is living independently and would otherwise be spending Christmas alone.
If you're worried about a family member or friend being lonely at Christmas you can call the Coping at Christmas number (01727 734167) and the charity will point you in the direction of your local centre. For further information visit www.abbeyfield.com
Yours is commited to helping you stay connected - see our Find A Friend and Sharing the Caring pages in Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday