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9 out of 10 people worry about older people in their community


9 out of 10 people feel concerned for a lonely older person in their community

  • One third of people have noticed a lonely older person in their community
  • 40 per cent don’t feel confident that they know a way to help
  • 66 per cent believe loneliness is a problem in their town
  • Almost half of us believe that admitting you are lonely is difficult

On average there is at least one socially isolated older person in every postcode in the UK*. Offering a solution to a growing loneliness epidemic is national charity, Contact the Elderly, which is calling for the public and communities to take action. In a recent survey, the charity found that a staggering 90 per cent of respondents have felt concerned after recognising a lonely older person in their community. However, with 40 per cent not feeling confident that they knew a way they could help, the charity is at the forefront of offering a real solution.

Supported by volunteers across England, Wales and Scotland, Contact the Elderly organise free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties throughout the year, ensuring isolated older people, living alone and aged 75 and over, have a regular social activity to look forward to. This vital lifeline of friendship makes a huge difference to the lives of thousands of guests and volunteers alike in their local communities.

As part of the charity’s latest campaign, “Be Our Guest”, it is hoping to reach out to isolated older people before the nights draw in for the winter months, to encourage them to try out a tea party. With so many of the UK’s older generation having minimal contact with the outside world, Contact the Elderly is calling on the general public to take action and help those suffering with loneliness in their community. People can link up their older neighbours with these social opportunities, either by giving them an invitation to try out their local tea party or by directly referring potential guests to the charity.

Contact the Elderly CEO, Mary Rance says:

“Loneliness amongst older people is a problem that can easily be solved by a community. By its nature, social isolation often means that the loneliest people are the hardest to reach. It’s not the case that they’re not there, it’s just that guests-to-be don’t know our service is available, and admitting you’re lonely is difficult.

“At Contact the Elderly we recognise that a grass roots approach is needed. We’ve had a fantastic stream of eager volunteers’ sign-up to support us, and with the help of the general public, we hope to identify those older people that need our service most to enable us to set up new tea parties across the country.

“We can’t be on every street, but we can encourage people to keep an eye out for their neighbour and help them know how to offer assistance in a discreet but significant way.”

EastEnders star and Contact the Elderly ambassador, Linda Marlowe says:

“I’m very lucky in that I have a big family and work in a vocation I love. However, as a person of a certain age, if I didn’t have this support network, it’s true that my life might be very different.

“Loneliness in older age can often sneak up on you and can be difficult to admit, but Contact the Elderly’s tea parties are a simple solution. They’re a good bit of fun and make a meaningful difference to the guests lives.”

To find out more about Contact the Elderly’s latest campaign, or to directly refer a potential older guest please call Freephone 0800 716 543, visit or email

Hotspot areas where Contact the Elderly is specifically looking to set up new tea party groups:









Tower Hamlets

East Anglia


King’s Lynn

Great Yarmouth


Bury St Edmunds

St Neots



North West England




St Helens


The Wirral




  • The Be Our Guest campaign has been fully funded by private equity group Bridgepoint, as part of a corporate support partnership

About the research

Total sample size was 2,018 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th August – 12th August 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The research was conducted by Censuswide.

*Based on Age UK’s figure of there being more than 2 million people over the age of 75 that live alone in the UK. There are 1.8m postcodes in the UK. 2m ÷ 1.8 = 1.1 older person living alone per postcode.

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