Nearly a million older people say they feel lonelier at Christmas time, according to research from Age UK.
The charity spoke to people aged over 65 and found shocking levels of isolation and loss.
Around 1.2 million people admitted Christmas feels like an ordinary day that just passes them by.
Olive Gallimore, who has lived on her own in London for 22 years, says she often goes days without speaking to people.
“I do feel alone. Everybody’s going to work, and you’re on your own in the house and you don’t talk to anyone except the local shop owners. It’s just not nice.”
Olive has been helped by Age UK. She’s been ‘be-friended’ by Lee, a volunteer in Liverpool.
She looks forward to his weekly phone calls which she says “make me feel human again”.
“Talking to someone, he’s laughing, you’re laughing, it’s lovely. When you’re on your own you need someone to talk to, just someone you can say hi to.”
Age UK figures found 873,000 older people have little or no contact with people over the Christmas period.
And 55% said they rely on the TV for company.Age UK is launching its ‘No one should have no one’ campaign, appealing for people to volunteer and help older people.
Charity director Caroline Abrahams said: “For many lonely older people the festive season also brings back memories of happier times in years gone by, reminding them of partners and other close relatives and friends who are no longer around and who they sorely miss.”
But the charity says there are many little things people can do to make a big difference.
Ms Abrahams said: “Having a friendly chat with an older person on the bus or in a shop, or offering to help an elderly neighbour with their shopping if the weather is bad, can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very little cost to ourselves. In fact I guarantee you’ll feel better too as a result.”