The return of the 'Big Freeze' threatens to prevent relatives from uniting with their families over the Christmas period. With this in mind, Age UK - the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged - and leading children and family charity 4Children have joined forces with TV presenter Esther Rantzen CBE to urge Brits to share their festivities together this year.

With an estimated half a million older people in the UK set to spend Christmas Day alone*, and half of Brits seeing their extended family members twice a year or less**, the fresh cold snap is likely to leave even more people alone this Christmas.

TV presenter and journalist Esther Rantzen is calling on the public to break down barriers between the generations, so they can share Christmas together. Esther said: 'Christmas is a fantastic time for friends and families to come together. It is a time when friendships and family links can be renewed, as older and younger generations share the joy of Christmas.'

With the AA suggesting that motorists should be 'flexible' over the Christmas period***, Esther Rantzen and the charities recommend that neighbours should keep an eye on older people who are alone. The call comes as part of Age UK's new Spread the Warmth campaign, which focuses on helping older people stay warm as well as reminding neighbours and friends of what they can do to help.

Esther continues: 'The tragedy is that many thousands of older people spend Christmas Day alone every year. Children too ring ChildLine every Christmas talking about the loneliness they experience. This year the number looks set to rise with snow and ice preventing people from travelling to see each other. We are calling for everyone to think again about whether or not they know someone who might be alone this Christmas with whom they could share their day.'

Both Age UK and 4Children also call on families who are unable to spend Christmas together to not wait until the next December 25th to do so.

Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said: 'Your family is for life and not just for Christmas. We know that many grandparents and other extended families are a fantastic source of love and support to many children and their parents, but that in other families contact is infrequent. Whether or not you do manage to bring your family together this Christmas, why not make it your New Year's resolution this year to make that extra effort to spend time with grandparents, aunts and uncles.'

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, said: 'Through the Spread the Warmth campaign we want to raise awareness of the difficulties many older people face in winter and let them know that Age UK can help them. We want as many people as possible to get involved in our campaign so we can offer the best support to those older people who need it.'

Too many older people are suffering and dying needlessly in winter due to lack of warmth, so Age UK created Spread the Warmth to help tackle the issue. The Charity and its local and national partners are making winter warmer by providing advice, support and practical services to help older people overcome issues with heating, health and human contact during the colder winter months.

For free information and advice, older people and their families can call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also find details of their nearest Age UK and order a free copy of 'Winter Wrapped Up' - a guide sponsored by British Gas. Alternatively they can visit spreadthewarmth.

* Christmas Day survey (unpublished), ICM Research for Help the Aged, 2007

** The Family Commission: carried out by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2114 adults. 20th and the 23rd of March 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)

*** theaa/motoring_advice/news/christmas-getaway-2010.html

Source: Age UK

Tag Cloud