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Winter can be a particularly lonely time for some people. There are lots of ways to help lonely or socially isolated elderly people in your community. A simple friendly chat or phone call could make all the difference.

Giving some of your time could be as valuable to you as the person you support, as it's likely to boost your self-esteem and sense of purpose.

The Campaign To End Loneliness  suggests 12 imaginative ways to tackle loneliness and make everyone feel more connected at Christmas. These range from giving a neighbour a card, to sharing a mince-pie moment, to recommending comedian Sarah Millican's #joinin chat on Twitter for people who want company on Christmas Day.

The NHS website also offers ideas on how to help, including:

  • Start a conversation
  • Offer practical help
  • Share your time
  • Help with household tasks
  • Share a meal
  • Watch for signs of winter illness.

Samaritans  volunteers will be on hand over the festive season to listen to anyone having a tough time. More than 11,000 volunteers across the UK and Ireland will be working shifts for the charity to ensure its helpline is open round the clock, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. Mental health, family issues, isolation and loneliness are expected to be the top concerns.

Samaritans is encouraging us all to give the gift of listening. To make it easy, they have produced vouchers that you can download to give as presents, offering yourself as a listening ear.

The NHS website also links to lots more information and organisations which can help.