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Richmond Council is encouraging residents to be a good neighbour this Christmas and check on the wellbeing of older people in their communities who live alone.

Hundreds of residents across the borough will be lonely and isolated this Christmas, many unable to see their friends and family because they are shielding from COVID-19 and the new Tier 4 restrictions.

Age UK estimates that on average, there are over 1.2 million older people in the UK are chronically lonely, which may contribute to the rise in the number of older residents who have to be admitted to hospital over the winter period through not looking after themselves. Here are some ways in which you can safely help keep your elderly neighbours well this Christmas.

Please remember that many older residents will be shielding, so it is important to make sure that you keep your distance and provide your help and support safely.

Drop in a viral kindness card

Those of us who don’t know our neighbours can offer support by filling in a viral kindness card and drop it through a neighbour’s letterbox. These are the cards that have been shared on social media, where you leave your details and offer help with doing the shopping, posting letters, picking up urgent supplies and making a friendly phone call.

Encourage your neighbour to get help - There are a large number of neighbourhood care networks in the borough, all aim to provide help and support for those residents who live alone, or need a helping hand. Some provide transport, prescription collections, befriending, shopping or gardening. You can find out more about support available. Or encourage them to contact our Community Hub.

  • Help with the shopping – Whilst there is no need to panic-buy food and supplies, there is an increased demand on our supermarkets and a limited number of online home delivery slots available. Perhaps give up your online slot or ask a neighbour if you can pick up anything for them on your next shopping trip?
  • Get creative - here are some creative ways to connect with your older neighbours so they don’t feel isolated during this time:
    • Have your children make homemade cards with inspirational messages to leave in their mailbox. Be sure to include your phone number so they can call you if they have a need.
    • Offer to play online games, if they are familiar with computers.
    • Cook a meal deliver to a vulnerable person’s home. Be sure to leave it on the doorstep and not enter their home (in line with the COVID-19 guidance).
    • Have a conversation through a glass door or over the fence just to let them know that someone is thinking about them.
  • Report if you are concerned - Should you have concerns about your vulnerable neighbour’s health and wellbeing, please let us know so we can help.

Cllr Piers Allen, Lead member for adult social care and health and Chair of the Health & Wellbeing Board, is urging local people to be a good neighbour and watch out for elderly residents.

He said:

“In any usual year, winter can be very lonely, but 2020 has not been ‘usual’ for any of us. We are all having to make sacrifices. And whilst most of us will not see many of our friends and family this Christmas, there will be some people who won’t see anyone at all.

“Throughout the pandemic, there has been an outpouring of people wanting to volunteer and help others. We need to keep this going. And, community starts at home.

“I would like to urge the people of Richmond upon Thames to show some community spirit and help us keep everyone safe this Christmas.”

– from a Richmond Council press release - 23 December 2020