Artwork showing two children trying to reach the moon with a ladder

Image by Philip Edmondson

Have you seen the John Lewis Christmas advert? It’s the heartwarming story of a little girl befriending the lonely man on the moon. It’s a reminder that this is the perfect time of year to bring some comfort and joy to people’s lives. But the good news is, you don’t have to go the moon (or even buy a gift) to help lonely people. There’s something you can do in your own community – and it’s totally free…

Barbara knows what it’s like to feel lonely. She spent time in hospital after a nasty fall. When she was finally allowed home, her joy at leaving hospital was mixed with sadness that she had to return to an empty house.

“I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or what. When you come to be on your own, it is awful. You think, well, nobody’s coming.”

Thankfully, Barbara was referred to our support at home service – and volunteer Pauline was soon popping round. She helped Barbara to settle back in to her daily routine and regain her confidence.

Loneliness affects millions

There are many people like Barbara who live alone and can go for days without speaking to anyone. We know that loneliness is a problem affecting not just older people but millions of people across the UK.

But even though it’s a huge problem, most people aren’t talking about it.

Recent research from the Co-op shows millions find it difficult to admit they feel lonely, even though loneliness can affect your health and wellbeing.

Two thirds of people surveyed by the Co-op would be uncomfortable confiding to a friend or family member that they feel lonely. Most people are more comfortable talking about death, money or body image than admitting to being lonely.

You can help

Here’s the free bit. We’re recruiting more volunteers, like Pauline. Could you spare a few hours to have a chat or help someone with their shopping? Find out about volunteering for our support at home service.

We’ve also teamed up with The Co-op to tackle loneliness and isolation across the UK. The Co-op aims to raise millions of pounds over the next two years. This money will help the British Red Cross to provide vital care and support for thousands of people.

Fundraising kicked off in September and will continue until January 2017. So next time you do a local shop, look out for events happening in your nearest Co-op. The Co-operative funeral care, legal and insurance businesses are also taking part.

Between us, we can bring comfort and joy to millions of lonely people on planet Earth. If that’s not a magical tale, I don’t know what is.

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