Loneliness campaign: Day to celebrate and reach out to older people

Westminster councillor Christabel Flight, founder of Silver Sunday, with two Westminster residents
Westminster councillor Christabel Flight, founder of Silver Sunday, with two Westminster residents
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IT started with a simple tea dance, and in less than a decade has turned into a national campaign to stop the blight of loneliness that is affecting so many older people.

IT started with a simple tea dance, and in less than a decade has turned into a national campaign to stop the blight of loneliness that is affecting so many older people.

Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday, which takes place on October 5, aims to both celebrate the valued contribution of over 65s in the community, but also put on events to try to get older people out of the house, trying new things and meeting new people in a bid to combat the isolation felt by so many.

The first Silver Sunday was held in 2012, an extension of a tea dance founded by Westminster councillor Christabel Flight nine years earlier, and set up specifically to combat loneliness experienced by the older people.

Last year, the day went national and more than 180 events took place, including a tea dance in North Leeds.

This scale of this year’s Silver Sunday has already far surpassed last year’s event, with around 300 events planned, including zumba classes, kurling, and even a world record attempt for the largest gathering of centenarians. High profile support has come from actress Joanna Lumley, Sir Terry Wogan and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Coun Flight said: “It is a big step if you are on your own to get out there and do something new. But brave, go along. You’ll find there’s lots of people in the same boat.

“Silver Sunday is also about recognising if you have an older neighbour who might be lonely, and inviting them to an event. You cannot measure the pleasure it gives people going to an event. These are people who just look at their four walls most of the time, and in some cases, have become scared of going out. ”

There is a tangible legacy to the day, with people saying they have made new friends and kept in touch after meeting at events. Silver Sunday takes place just a few days after Older People’s Day, a worldwide celebration of older people on October 1 each year. By holding it on a Sunday, organisers hope more people will be able to put on, and take part in, events.

“Our aim is make this a day in the calendar, like Mothering Sunday, when everybody reaches out to the older people around them,” Coun Flight added.

As part of our award-winning Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign, The Yorkshire Post has paired with Silver Sunday to encourage our readers to host events, encourage neighbours and family to take part or even go along themselves. Several events have already been announced in Yorkshire, but there is still time to make a difference by arranging one yourself.

In February, we revealed the heartbreaking scale of loneliness in the region, which takes it toll on 91,300 older people. The extensive health effects of social isolation, which can contribute to dementia and high blood pressure, and be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, were one of the many reasons behind the development of Silver Sunday.

Nicola Furbisher, managing editor at The Yorkshire Post, said: “Since we launched our loneliness campaign, we have been encouraging our readers to volunteer for charities and initiatives that combat isolation.

“Silver Sunday may be one day a year, but these events make a huge impact and have the potential to help thousands of people out of the suffering that loneliness brings. We are delighted to help support such a great initiative.”

Coun Flight added; “What The Yorkshire Post is doing is enormously important. Lonely people reading this will realise that they are not alone.”

The Yorkshire Post wants to hear from anyone organising a Silver Sunday event so we can help publicise it. Contact reporter Lindsay Pantry on 01132 388422 or email lindsay.pantry@ypn.co.uk with the details.

How you can get involved

The Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes will offer free entry to the over 60s to a display of mystery objects that Grandparents can explain to younger members of the family.

It is just one of many special events taking place on Sunday October 4 for Silver Sunday. A tea dance will be held at the YMCA in Salendine Nook, Huddersfield, afternoon teas will be held at St Andrew’s Church in Netherton, Wakefield, and zumba, 40s music and bingo are among the activities on offer at New Beginnings Christian Centre at Threeways Nursery Lane, Halifax.

A sea shanty choir will perform at The Friends Meeting House, Harrogate, at 3pm.

Details of all Silver Sunday events, and how to add yours to the site, can be found at www.silversunday.org.uk