Balham resident organises Christmas Day event to tackle loneliness among the over 60s

A Balham chef and TV producer is spreading Christmas cheer by hosting a Christmas Day event for the over 60s to tackle loneliness during the festive season. 

27-year-old Sophie Mann has teamed up with the Furzedown Project to provide a day of festive fun, including a three course meal, bingo, and other activities for those who otherwise would be alone.

Sophie’s asking for donations to help to make the event as special as possible and has set a target of raising £3,000. 

Sophie said: “My nan used to live in a retirement home and she always spent Christmas with us, but a couple of years ago we lost her. 

“There were a lot of people in her block who would be on their own and that’s always been in the back of my mind. 

“Being on your own at Christmas Day, especially when you’re older, is difficult and it can be a really lonely place to be.

“It’s about giving back and I feel like I’m at that age now where I can do just that.”

CHRISTMAS CHEER: Sophie Mann outside the Woodlawn centre with a member of her team. CREDIT: Sophie Mann

Around 1.5 million older people feel more lonely at Christmas than any time of the year, according to Age UK. 

The charity also found that one in 20 older people are facing Christmas without speaking to anyone. 

The cost-of-living crisis has led to more pensioners living solitary lives as one in four admit to reducing their social activities to save money. 

Sophie said she always knew there was an issue with loneliness on Christmas Day, but was surprised at how the interest the event has received so far.

She said: “Some people haven’t had proper social interaction for a good few years.

“Some have been afraid to leave their homes because of Covid or don’t have any relatives. 

“This is a lovely way to bring people together from all different generations.”

Sophie said they have been inundated with volunteers, but they’re still looking for donations. 

They’re looking for drinks, prizes for the bingo and quiz, and Christmas decorations, which can be dropped off at the Woodlawn centre on the 23rd December. 

The GoFundMe page is also running until Christmas Eve. 

The event is completely free for attendees and will take place at the Woodlawn centre in Streatham. 

To book the final few places on Christmas Day special event, head to their website or email Sophie on [email protected].

Featured image credit: Sophie Mann

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