Health and Wellbeing

Make them count. 12 days, 12 ways to combat loneliness

Posted on: 1 December 2018

Nearly one in every five people aged over 75 in the UK go three months or longer with no one to share a meal with, according to analysis by Bournemouth University’s Ageing and Dementia Research Centre.

That’s one in five people this Christmas with no company to share a meal, or best wishes of the season with.

Estimates suggest that between 15,000 to 19,000 people over 65 in Devon experience intense loneliness. Around 38,000 experience what’s described as mild loneliness.

And yet the largest age group of all to experience loneliness, identified in a recent BBC survey, are younger people aged 16 to 24.

It can lead to health problems, and can be as detrimental to some people as lifelong smoking and alcoholism.

The BBC loneliness survey invited people to describe what has helped them to combat their loneliness.

It’s a personal thing, and not all of the solutions identified work for everyone.

So we’ve come up with an alternative 12 Days of Christmas.

Starting on the 1st December, we’re posting a different clip every other day, running up to Christmas Eve, suggesting a different thing that people can do to combat loneliness – to help themselves, or to help others in their communities.

Our 12 Days of Christmas has ideas to appeal across all ages.

Some might be small things – encouraging people to think of others – but some will take a little more of a concerted effort to lift ones’ self from loneliness.

None though underestimate the scale of the challenge for some.

We’re posting our 12 Days of Christmas on social media, and we’d love people to share them.

As well as these ideas, we have other things that people can do to help themselves or others at

And we’d love people to use the hashtags #EndLoneliness and #WeAreDevon to join the conversation.

One in five people sat alone for their Christmas meal this year? There’s time yet to make a difference. There’s time yet to make a friend.

Follow our Devon County Council social media accounts:

11 comments on “Make them count. 12 days, 12 ways to combat loneliness

  1. Susie says:

    I would love to find a friend in Dawlish /Teignmouth area for occasional days out; go for a walk or to share a meal..
    I am an active lady in my early seventies.

  2. Maria Joll says:

    I have just started a once a month afternoon tea in our home for people in and around our village who are on their own. it is being enjoyed which is very satisfying. Anything to help people on their own and often lonely can only be a good thing.

  3. David says:

    I live alone and autistic, I only get maybe 1 visitor once a week, If that person is on holiday I can go over a month with no visitors. I have lived the last 18 years on my own. As I get older one begins to feel the loneliness more and more

  4. Barbara says:

    I don’t go in for Social Media, so could this information be e mailed? I am nearly 80 and feel very lucky to have friendly neighbours and some family near by. So I am not generally lonely, but would like to join in combating loneliness for others.

  5. Valerie says:

    I think this is a good idea but maybe we should be more aware of all the people who surround us, regardless of their circumstances. Say hello, smile and be friendly.

  6. Neville Pearson says:

    Great idea.

Posted in: Community | DCC Homepage | Health and Wellbeing