Rising numbers of elderly people in the UK are chronically lonely, according to Age UK figures.
The new report states that 500,000 pensioners across the country will often go five or six days a week without seeing anyone.
The epidemic goes beyond personal distress: loneliness increases the chances of an early death by 26%.
This is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day – worse than both obesity and inactivity for overall health.
Age UK Manchester runs a number of events to support its elderly population, including seated tai chi sessions, as well as walking tours to The Lowry, Leigh, Bury, and other local towns.
The average turnout is around 10 per session, but can drop off when members become ill or too frail.
Diane Aronwich co-ordinates events for the charity and holds weekly coffee mornings as well as monthly tea dances.
Diane highlighted the importance of targeting elderly people who aren’t actively seeking company.
“Age UK advertise in places where they know people will go: supermarkets, doctors surgeries, and opticians.
“The biggest issue is finding the people who don’t come out looking for what’s going on.”
Age UK isn’t the only source of company for pensioners in Manchester. Age Friendly Manchester is a city council run scheme which organises day trips further afield – to York, Blackpool, and the Lake District among others.
For many pensioners, trips like these are the highlight of their social circle, and making sure as many people as possible know about them is Age UK Manchester’s biggest focus.