A charity working to combat loneliness is urging Huddersfield residents to ‘start a conversation’ with a neighbour or visit an old friend or relative.
Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees is marking the Spotlight on Older People Month which is part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, set up in memory of the late Batley and Spen Labour MP.
The charity’s Judith Churley, who is based in Huddersfield, said the aim was to get people talking at all levels, from neighbours to friends.
Research suggests that Kirklees is in the top third nationally with the highest risk of loneliness in people aged 65 and over.
In Huddersfield, Age UK is combating the ‘silent epidemic’ with Companionship Centres at Sandy Mount in Crosland Moor and Sundale House in Bradley where older people can get together for a chat, lots of different activities and a hot and healthy midday meal.
Judith added: “We can collect you from home in our wheelchair accessible minibuses and transport you to your nearest centre where you will be welcomed with a cuppa and a smile.
“We try to provide activities that you request and these vary from the traditional, such as all sorts of arts and crafts, games and quizzes to the more up-to-date, including indoor curling, IT lessons and we’ve even tried bread-making.”
The centres also offer regular days out, with recent visits to local pubs for lunch, the bowling alley, shopping malls such as the Trafford Centre and Meadowhall and trips further afield to Liverpool and Blackpool.
“Companionship days are a great way for older people to get out and meet new people and try new things but can also offer very welcome respite for carers, who can relax, knowing that their loved ones are in safe hands,” says Judith.
The charity also offers a befriending service where trained volunteer befrienders visit people at your home. There is also offer a telephone befriending service. Volunteers are being sought for either service.
“We also run a social drop-in group every Tuesday morning 10.30-12.00 at our shop/offices at 12 New Street in the centre of Huddersfield which is open to anyone aged 50 plus.
“Drop-in for a coffee and a chat, games, book swap and more.”
The work of Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees is being supported by Colne Valley Conservative MP Jason McCartney who visited the Companionship Centre at Crosland Moor.
The MP wants to highlight the issue of loneliness in older people which he said was destructive and debilitating.
For more information visit the shop at 12 New Street (open 10-4 Mon-Fri and 10-3 Saturday) or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/calderdaleandkirklees or call 01484 535994.