Lonely this Christmas: There's always someone to turn to, say charity

There's no need for anyone to feel alone this Christmas.

The Samaritans received 200,000 calls last Christmas
The Samaritans received 200,000 calls last Christmas

That's the message from helpline charity Samaritans, which has released new figures showing the extent of loneliness and isolation people feel over the festive period.

According to its research, a quarter believe everything feels worse at Christmas and 1 in 6 say it’s the loneliest time of year.

The survey also reveals that 1 in 15 have often spent Christmas alone.

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning on the issue since February 2014

The charity responded to nearly 200,000 calls for help over the festive period last year, and are seeing an increasing demand for their services, responding to more than 5.3 million calls for help last year.

Samaritans’ Leeds' director, Keith Foster said: “For many the holiday period can be a thoroughly enjoyable time but, sadly, as our research shows, for a startling amount of people this is not always the case. This time of year can bring up painful memories, or worsen difficult feelings often related to family or relationship issues, financial or health worries, to name just a few. The pressure to be having a good time or comparing your life with someone else’s can be too much, leaving many feeling they have no one to turn to.”

“The important thing to remember is that no one needs to feel alone this Christmas – Samaritans volunteers are there to listen round the clock, every day of the year. We don’t judge and we don’t share what we’re told, we’re simply there to listen, provide emotional support and help people find a way through whatever’s getting to them.”

Samaritans volunteer Lucy, 36, will be on duty over the festive period in Leeds.

“This is my 8th year as a Samaritans volunteer," she said. " I’m happy to give up my time as I know that there are a lot of people who, more than ever, need someone to turn to. Support services can often shut down at this time of year, or family and friends may be far away, leaving some people feeling more isolated than usual. Knowing I can provide vital support to people who might be having a difficult time is the best gift I can think of giving”.

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of loneliness as a healthcare priority since February 2014. Find out more about the campaign here.