A local befriending charity for vulnerable adults has launched its 2016 Christmas campaign this week, to help tackle the issue of loneliness and isolation.
The ‘No-one should be lonely campaign’ by Brighton and Hove charity Impetus aims to highlight the fact that there will be a significant number of elderly but also vulnerable people in the city spending Christmas alone this year.
The campaign aims to raise awareness, but also fundraise for the Brighton and Hove charity, whose 300 volunteers help around 1,000 people across the city each year.
Impetus matches local volunteers and isolated people to provide company, friendship and ensure there is someone to look out for some of the city’s most vulnerable adults.
Jo Ivens, CEO of Impetus, said: “Loneliness can have a devastating impact at any time of year. But as Christmas approaches and families plan their festivities, we will be working with some of the most isolated and vulnerable people in our city. We are urging people to use their phones to donate £5 to our appeal, it’s really easy to do and will make such a big difference.”
Ms Ivens said around 44,294 people in Brighton and Hove are living alone, and 70 per cent of the people Impetus help tell them that isolation is the most difficult aspect of their life. She said loneliness and isolation makes people more prone to depression, and can be as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The charity said just £10.35 allows Impetus to befriend an isolated and vulnerable person for a week.
Just one of the people Impetus has helped in Dorothy. She came from a big family, with six big brothers. At 19 Dorothy joined the Royal Air Force and became a cook. All of her brothers joined the Army.
Dorothy used to enjoy going dancing and because it was mixed with boys and girls, it is where she met her husband who was in the Navy. He didn’t dance, so they used to go out walking, as there was little else to do in those days.
“We did do a few things we weren’t supposed to and pretended we got lost, but we had a lot of fun,” she said.
Dorothy, with her husband, had two daughters and a foster son. They all belonged to brownies and cubs and she was a member too. They all used to go camping and everyone mixed with everyone.
“It was fun and great company,” she said. “It was all we needed.”
But now, Dorothy is a widow and in her 90s and doesn’t see much of anybody anymore. She used to speak to her brothers every day but there’s only one left now.
“It’s not a life I like,” said Dorothy. “I’ve got plenty to do all day but it’s not much fun on your own. I liked it when I could get out into the garden and see the neighbours but now I don’t see anybody.
“Nobody likes to be lonely or live on their own. My family is depleting and I sit here thinking what am I doing on my own. I don’t have a family to visit me.”
Dorothy’s voice brightens when she talks about the lady from Impetus who comes to see her every day for an hour.
“We have a cup of tea, chat and have a laugh about old times, talk about the grand-children. We discuss things and understand each other. We have a good natter and a laugh. She’s lovely and I so enjoy her visiting me”.
Dorothy is just one person whose life has been changed by Impetus. The charity helps vulnerable people who are lonely or isolated because of disability, poor mental or physical health or age, helping people make connections in their community.
There are a number of ways to get involved, to ensure ‘no one is lonely in Brighton and Hove’ this Christmas.
l Donate £5 by texting CONNECT to 70060 to give £5 to Impetus. It costs just £10.35 to provide weekly befriending support for one isolated person.
l Volunteer with Impetus and help people in your local community feel less isolated.
l Fundraise – get your friends together, put on an event, do something silly for sponsorship; every penny really does count.
l Spread the word – help make the campaign come alive by championing it on social media. Follow @BHImpetus on Twitter.
For more information or to volunteer go to www.bh-impetus.org