Easing loneliness at Christmas for older people

Academics at Manchester Metropolitan University are working in partnership with Age UK Stockport to help combat loneliness for older people during the festive period and winter months.

A recent study conducted by Age UK has shown that certain areas in the North West are some of the loneliest places to live in the UK for people over the age of 65. Persistent loneliness can have profound impacts on physical and mental health, and quality of life.

Over 360,000 older people admitted they had not had a conversation with friends or family for over a week in a survey conducted for Age UK this summer.

Historians from the University’s Manchester Centre for Regional History taking part in the Looking Back at Stockport project will use conversation to help ease loneliness. The project will see academics and students buddy up with older people in the Stockport region to discuss what life was like growing up and living in the area.

Margaret Brade, Chief Executive at Age UK Stockport, said: “Lots of factors contribute to older people’s feelings of loneliness – Ill health, loss of a loved one and a lack of mobility, are just some of the contributing factors that can make a person feel socially isolated. Throughout the winter months and especially during the festive season, these feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated.

“Lots of different things can make a positive difference to people in this situation and opportunities to talk and share thoughts and memories is one of them.”

Project leader and Associate Lecturer in History Michala Hulme said: “The project not only gets communities talking and engaging with the older generation but the memories that the older people of Stockport share with us will then be recorded as oral histories. Each individual’s story will be stored at the Manchester Libraries Sound Archive for future generations to access and learn from.”

The project will use the recorded memories and old photographs of the area to explore how Stockport has changed over time. These clips will then be shown to school children across the region as part of an on-going history project.

Depending on the success of Looking Back at Stockport, similar projects will be trialled with other Age UK’s across the country.