One it ten in Yorkshire will spend Christmas Day alone

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ONE IN 10 people in Yorkshire will spend Christmas Day alone - double the national average, a charity that supports people estranged from the families has warned.

National charity Stand Alone, which has run support groups and workshops in Sheffield to help people who are estranged to feel less alone, said across the UK, 3.25m people will spend most of Christmas Day alone.

Its research found that just 62 per cent of Britons plan to spend most of Christmas Day with their immediate family. Just over one in 10, 12 per cent, will spend it with their partners’ immediate family. Nationally, five per cent will spend Christmas Day on their own - but in Yorkshire and the Humber that figure is doubled, with 10 per cent saying they will not have company on December 25.

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to highlight the devastating effects of loneliness on people in the region since 2014.

Chief executive of Stand Alone, Becca Bland, said part of the reason for the higher than average number of people spending the day alone in Yorkshire could be to do with public transport difficulties in more rural areas.

“In our previous research, the availability of public transport has had a big impact,” she said.

University of Sheffield student Magdalena Callisto, 21, who is originally from Manchester, has been estranged from her family since she was in college.

Now in her third year of an English Literature degree, she will spend the Christmas period alone after her flatmate went back home for the festivities.

She said: “As a student, Christmas can be particularly difficult because all of my friends go off and visit family and it reminds me what I am missing.

“Last Christmas was really difficult for me, as I’d split up with my boyfriend in the September, and went through a period of feeling very lonely. This year, I feel a lot more positive about being alone and will be reaching out to friends to try to keep connected, but it is tough.”

Stand Alone’s research also indicated that people are challenging the traditional notion of Christmas being a time for family, with a quarter of respondents saying they found spending time apart from family relaxing. Three per cent of respondents said they will spend Christmas Day with friends or acquaintances, and 11 per cent solely with their partner.

Ms Bland added: “We often assume that the festive period and Christmas Day is primarily spent with immediate family. This poll shows that a sizable minority of people are planning to do things differently.

“Whilst it is important to talk about social isolation at this time of the year, it is equally as important to consider that some people may choose to spend time alone at Christmas, or with other people who feel like their family.”

Dr Lucy Blake, a family researcher from Edge Hill University, said research has confirmed that some family relationships are “distant or inactive”.

She said: “Those people often experience isolation and stigma and find Christmas to be challenging. Social media plays a part too because it’s a happy highlight reel of people’s family lives. The reality doesn’t always look like this.”

Meanwhile, Theresa May said everyone can do something to help overcome loneliness. She was speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions after the issue was raised by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, who said the Government should publish a strategy on loneliness. The PM agreed that loneliness is an “important issue” and said the Government was looking at what it could do to tackle it.

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