Royal Voluntary Serviceis set to receive £300,000 from players of People's Postcode Lottery to tackle loneliness and isolation across the country.

The funding is timely ahead of Christmas, as research by Royal Voluntary Service has found that nearly half a million older people (489,000) are set to spend Christmas alone this year.

Loneliness is a huge issue, with previous research by the charity revealing that more than one in five older people are lonely. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called the chronic loneliness of older people in Britain a source of national shame, with loneliness having a more damaging effect on health than smoking or obesity.

Royal Voluntary Service, which has 35,000 volunteers and supports over 100,000 older people a month, will use the funds to grow its Good Neighbours service. Good Neighbours matches older people up with a volunteer who offers companionship and practical help. They might get some shopping in, walk the dog, change a light bulb or just have a cup of tea and a chat. The service aims to help older people stay independent, whilst providing friendly, social contact to make sure they're safe and well.

David McCullough, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service, added, "Never underestimate the power of a friendly face popping in for a cuppa and a chat. It lifts everyone's spirits to know someone cares, but imagine how much of a lifeline it would be if that was the only person you saw. Thanks to the funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery, we can help more older people who just want a bit of company and someone they can look forward to seeing every week."

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said, "There is just no need for so many older people in this country to be so chronically lonely when the solution is often as simple as a cup of tea and a chat. It is heartbreaking to think that's all it would take to change someone's day, or life, and yet so many people don't even have that to look forward to. I'm delighted that players of People's Postcode Lottery are able to support Royal Voluntary Service with the sum of £300,000 so they can get the kettle on and help more older people."

Royal Voluntary Service supports over 100,000 older people each month to stay independent in their own homes for longer with tailor-made solutions. Through its army of 35,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that alleviate loneliness and help older people. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been inhospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services.

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