Age UK South Tyneside bosses say they are delighted with the number of volunteers who have come forward to give the gift of time this Christmas.
Since the Gazette-backed the Age UK South Tyneside campaign - No One Should Have No One - the charity has seen a surge of new volunteers come forward.
The campaign, also backed by South Tyneside Council, aims to urge people to help the charity, particularly by getting involved with its befriending service,
The service puts volunteers in contact with lonely older people in a bid to tackle social isolation.
This week Age UK have received another two volunteer enquiries, bringing the total to 26 volunteers enquiring as a direct result of the campaign.
Members of the public have also backed a petition to raise the issue of isolation in Government to tackle the growing problem.
Since the campaign launched 36 people have signed the petition and more people are expected to have signed it online.
Campaign co-ordinator Victoria Dunn said: “I am really pleased that people are coming forward to give their time.
“It is nice to see, as we know that people are busy at this time of year and have a lot of minds, so it is lovely for people to come forward and dedicate their time to others.”
Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year as we enjoy festive cheer with our families and friends.
But for many elderly folk across Tyneside, it can be a very lonely time.
In South Tyneside, Age UK estimates that the borough is the 15th most lonely borough out of the 326 local authority areas in England.
It says some senior citizens in South Tyneside can go for a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
The Shields Gazette is teaming up with Age UK’s team in the town to launch our No One Should Have No One campaign – urging people to help the charity, particularly by getting involved with its befriending service, which puts volunteers in contact with lonely older people.
Age UK is also calling for local and national government action to recognise loneliness as a serious health hazard and put policies in place to tackle it.
It is asking the public to sign its loneliness petition to make sure no one has no one.
It wants to see the Government and South Tyneside Council develop strategies to map, prevent and address loneliness; evaluate and improve existing services to combat loneliness; and invest in testing and evaluating innovative solutions to loneliness.
To sign the petition online or donate to Age UK, visit the charity’s website.
Alternatively, there is a petition on this page to sign and send in – get your friends to sign it too.
To get involved in volunteering, contact Age UK South Tyneside on: 0191 4566903.