#UniteAgainstLoneliness - A campaign to help loneliness in elderly through the Christmas period
Recent statistics have shown that 10% of the older generation have reported feeling constantly lonely.
Non-profit organisation, Voices of Hope, has teamed up with Age Concern to tackle this issue and help those over 65’s this Christmas.
Voices of Hope was co-founded by Jazz Thornton and Genevieve Mora in 2014. Having both experienced serious mental health struggles, they created this charity to encourage others, especially teenagers and youth, through sharing their own stories. Their mission - to raise awareness of the growing mental health statistics in New Zealand and do whatever possible to create change. They have been recognised nationally and internationally, had coffee with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and been awarded the Commonwealth ‘Points of Light’ award from the Queen, an award given to those doing significant and inspirational acts of volunteering and helping the community around them.
Due to COVID-19 the statistics of those experiencing prolonged feelings of loneliness have sky-rocketed, and with Christmas coming up there will be many people who won’t have family or friends with them due to the borders being closed. With over half of those over 65 living alone, a campaign called ‘Unite Against Loneliness’ has been created.
This is an initiative which sees hand written cards being sent to many of those who are alone this Christmas. So, how are they doing this? Through social media, television articles, and other advertising, the campaign #uniteagainstloneliness has been asking for people to create a personalised card, where they can write a bit about themselves, their hobbies, or anything that can share some joy and hope with others this Christmas.
Genevieve Mora, of Voices of Hope said “The art of sending a card to someone at Christmas seems to have been lost over the years, we are encouraging people to revive the tradition of sending someone a nice card in the mail. This could be a family member, neighbour, someone you know of or mail it to us, and we can make sure it gets out to someone in need of a bit of cheer. Hopefully this will help someone feel a bit less lonely this Christmas.”
In response to the call, thousands of people, including many youth, sent in cards they had made. These arrived at Voices of Hope and were given to Age Concern to distribute around the New Zealand over 65s community.
Is Voices of Hope wanting to continue looking into helping the issue of loneliness in elderly and the ever increasing statistics of those struggling with mental health issues in the older community? Or is this a one off campaign?
A Voices of Hope representative responded to this with the best reply we could have asked for, “As we’ve seen from this year, loneliness is a challenge impacting more people than ever before and with the ongoing global pandemic, this is likely to unfortunately continue to rise. We don’t envision that this is a ‘one off campaign’ and we would like to continue to support the work that Age Concern does in the older community as a whole as well as the coalition they are part of (Let’s End Loneliness). We also received positive feedback from the community that they enjoyed creating and writing the Christmas cards and that it gave some of them a sense of purpose being part of this project.”
We look forward to seeing how initiatives such as this could be implemented in care homes (rest homes), retirement villages and hospital care in the future.