A North Yorkshire and Darlington charity has made an appeal to local residents to combat isolation among the elderly during Loneliness Awareness Week.

Recent findings by Age UK reveal that over 1.2 million older people are dealing with chronic loneliness, with almost 225,000 going for a week without talking to anybody.

An alarming 4.5 million older people stated that they have experienced loneliness in their later years.

To address this issue, the charity is encouraging local residents, including volunteers, to participate more in initiatives designed to reduce loneliness such as visiting programmes, and social events and creating supportive networks.

Nat Bee, spokesperson for Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, said: "Loneliness can have devastating effects on older people, leading to severe health consequences and a diminished quality of life.

"The research highlights the urgency of addressing this issue.

"I think one of the problems is that communities have become more fractured with people not even aware of the names of their close neighbours.

"It’s not about being a nosy neighbour, but just about something as simple as saying ‘hello, how are you?’"

An 84-year-old Darlington resident, Ted, shared his personal experience of isolation: "Loneliness is like a dark cloud that never lifts.

"It's not just about being alone; it's about feeling forgotten and irrelevant.

"I know I’m not alone in the respect that others will be enduring the same as me."

The charity has launched several initiatives to address loneliness, such as The Silver Line telephone helpline which connects volunteers with older people for regular calls or home visits, community events, support groups, and the provision of meals delivered to the homes of older people.

"These community initiatives are lifelines for many older people.

"However, we need more volunteers and support from the community to expand these services," said Ms Bee.

"The charity is urging residents of North Yorkshire and Darlington to participate in these efforts.

"This could involve volunteering for a few hours a week or simply reaching out to an older neighbour.

"Every action is important."

For more information, contact Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington on 01325 362 832 or email: enquiries@ageuknyd.org.uk.