Over the last 20 years, the number of people over 75 who live alone has gone up to 2.2m
All too often, loneliness is the reality for older people and nearly half of older people say the TV is their main source of company.
Social isolation and loneliness are more than an emotional experience, they have huge mental and physical health implications. Older people living alone are significantly more likely to experience health problems, visit their GP or attend A&E.
As the ageing population continues to grow, so does the epidemic of loneliness among older people. We’re the only charity solely committed to tackling this problem by helping older people to re-engage with their communities through regular social contact, giving them a lifeline of friendship and, vitally, something to look forward to.
What do we do?
We exist to provide social activities for older people at a time in their lives when their social circles are diminishing.
This year, 8,500 older guests were part of over 900 regular social gatherings across the UK, supported by 14,000 volunteers.
However, in response to the COVID-19 crisis we suspended these social gatherings and created a new telephone befriending service for older people called call companions.
As well as making sure that all those already receiving our support get a regular phone call throughout the lockdown, we are offering a call companion to anyone else of this generation who lives alone or in sheltered housing and feels lonely or isolated.
We plan to make call companions a permanent addition to our work and will continue to run this new service alongside our social gatherings when things get back to normal.
In 1965, a young man called Trevor Lyttleton encountered an older woman living near him in London. She was alone and had no electricity in her house. Saddened by the realisation that she was just one of many people living like this in the borough, Trevor decided to do something to help older people in his area.
Trevor contacted the Marylebone Welfare Department and, with friends, visited a total of 12 older people and invited them on a visit to Hampton Court. After a successful first meet up, Trevor decided to set up further groups.
Trevor Lyttleton, MBE
I received a Christmas card from one of the older ladies, simply saying: ‘At last I have something to live for!’, and I think this more than anything else made me realise how much more we could do.
In September 1965, the organisation which was then called Contact, was granted charitable status. Several years later, the name changed to Contact the Elderly. Then, in 2019 under the leadership of our current CEO Meryl Davies, we launched our new name and brand – Re-engage.
One small act of kindness has grown into a national charity - in the last year alone, we've helped 8,500 lonely and isolated older people.
Find out more about the people behind our organisation
What our older guest said about our friendship groups
said they now have something to look forward to
said their wellbeing has improved since joining us
say what they enjoy most about the gatherings is the company
There are 5.4m people aged 75 and over in the UK and with an ageing population, that number is set to grow.
We’ve been fighting loneliness and social isolation among older people for more than 50 years and we want to make sure that we can continue to do so for the next 50 and beyond.
Our values are
Join us on our campaign to bring dignity and respect to people as they age.
Our strategic plan 2020-2023
To encourage older people who live alone to develop social interests by bringing companionship into their lives.
To help older people establish contact with their peers
To encourage younger people to devote some of their time to helping older people find companionship and new friendship groups
Our vision is a world where no one is ever too old to make friends and enjoy social interaction.
Our strategic goals 2020-23
Reduce loneliness and social isolation amongst the UK’s oldest older people
Empower our volunteers and staff
Amplify the voices of older people.
10 steps to reaching our goals
- Support more - and more diverse - socially isolated and lonely older people...
- … by diversifying our activities and reaching new audiences.
- Attract and retain volunteers with an excellent engagement programme...
- …especially volunteer leaders who would like to take on more responsibility.
- Ensure our staff are engaged and supporting and training our volunteers well.
- Use digital tools to measure impact to make sure we’re effective...
- … and build our brand to share our successes and grow awareness and raise more funds.
- Support all of this with great use of IT and digital for programmes delivery, communications and engagement.
- Use impact stories and brand to raise more funds to support more older people...
- … and communicate from the older person’s point of view in order to reach more older people.