Royal Voluntary Service provides practical help and support to older people so that they can live safely and independently at home and stay connected to their communities. One million older people living in Britain today say that they are always or often lonely. Life changes, such as retirement, the loss of a partner, or a health crisis can make people particularly vulnerable.
Loneliness can take away people's enjoyment of life, but research shows that it's also bad for our physical health. It can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Royal Voluntary Service volunteers help to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst older people by providing companionship and help to get out and about and running social centres and group activities where people can get together.
Sylvia in Oxfordshire said, "Dave is always looking out for me; he picks me up and takes me to the "Friday Club" at the Royal Voluntary Service Centre in Banbury. I really enjoy it because there's good company and things to do.
"We play games, have some lunch, and there's always tea and coffee. All the volunteers are nice, helpful, and courteous. We're very lucky to have them all. There are about 20 of us who come to the Friday Club, and we couldn't be together if it wasn't for the volunteers."
Meeting up regularly at a social group is often a really important part of people's lives, providing companionship, emotional support, information, and the opportunity to share and develop skills and interests. Sometimes, it's the only social contact people like Betty have. "Going to the centre gives me something to look forward to, it helps alleviate the loneliness. I find it difficult being on my own all the time."
Players have raised an incredible £3,110,952 for Royal Voluntary Service, helping them to recruit more volunteers and reach thousands more older people through home visits and social groups across Great Britain.