Alone’s ‘Have a Laugh for Loneliness this Christmas’ campaign launched in Dublin

Charity helps elderlystruggling with loneliness by providing befriending services

Katherine Lynch and Margaret Browne (right) launch Alone’s  “Have a Laugh for Loneliness this Christmas” campaign in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin on Tuesday, November 27th Photograph: Arthur Carron

Katherine Lynch and Margaret Browne (right) launch Alone’s “Have a Laugh for Loneliness this Christmas” campaign in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin on Tuesday, November 27th Photograph: Arthur Carron

 

“What did the hen say to the scrambled egg? Oh you crazy mixed up kid,” joked comedian Katherine Lynch at the launch of Alone’s Have a Laugh for Loneliness this Christmas campaign.

Seated for tea at Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse Centre with Margaret Browne (83), who has benefitted from Alone’s befriending service for four years, Lynch shared anecdotes from her youth and explained the importance of reaching out to elderly people who may be suffering from loneliness, especially during the holiday season.

“Loneliness and isolation can be serious problems for older people,” Lynch said. “Dropping in for a cup of tea or helping a neighbour with their shopping could make all the difference to their week.”

“When I was younger, we were sent in as kids into the old folks’ home and we would Irish dance or say a poem for the old people . . . The Irish way is to go in and cheer people up.”

For the past three years, an Alone volunteer named Claire has visited Ms Browne every Tuesday, where the two share tea and talk about their friends and family members.

‘No one wants me’

While she has a brother and sister who occasionally visit her, Ms Browne has been living mostly alone for 38-years since her mother died. Before Claire’s visits, Ms Browne said the loneliness caused her to feel “left out, like no one wants me”.

“It’s grand,” Ms Browne said. “It breaks the monotony . . . You say to yourself, ‘well thank God I have somebody to talk to.’ ”

Alone helps elderly people struggling with loneliness and social isolation by providing befriending services and support co-ordination during crisis situations.

As part of this year’s Christmas activities, the charity will host dinner dances and volunteers will deliver Christmas trees and dinners to members of the elderly community.

The charity is also asking that the public considering donating to Alone or volunteering this holiday season to help the more than 100,000 older people living with loneliness in Ireland.

“Over the winter period, calls for support dramatically increase,” said Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan.

“Many older people think that by asking for help and support they are bothering people. Alone want them to know that they deserve the help they require and should not be afraid to ask for it.”

Alone can be contacted on (01) 679 1032 for anyone hoping to use their services or become a volunteer or visit alone.ie