The number of older people in Ireland living in isolation and without regular contact has increased 40 percent in the last year, according to ALONE, the national organisation that provides support to our older population. The increase reflects Ireland’s ageing community, and is particularly worrying in the build-up to Christmas, ALONE CEO, Sean Moynihan, said at a special appeal supported by Premier Lotteries Ireland (the operator of the National Lottery) for people to keep an eye on older neighbours and friends over the festive period.
With that in mind, National Lottery staff teamed up with ALONE staff and service users for a special fund-raising Christmas carol singing service at Clery's on O’Connell Street, Dublin on Wednesday 6th December, led by RTE personalities Marty Whelan and Sinead Kennedy (presenters of Winning Streak) and Nuala Carey and Kamal Ibrahim (presenters of the Lotto draws).
A total of €877.90 was raised for ALONE, the charity which supports thousands of older people to age at home.
Sean Moynihan said: “Older people tend to feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year, and can feel isolated from their community. Every penny raised today will go directly towards the provision of vital services for older people. ALONE provides friendship, support, social events and housing to older people and our services ensure that no older person is left isolated and lonely. We are delighted to have partnered for this initiative with Premier Lotteries Ireland, whose staff have volunteered with us in the past. We look forward to working together in the future”.
He said Christmas is a busy time for ALONE, who will be providing a number of activities for older people including hosting Christmas dinner dances, delivering of hundreds of Christmas hampers, and a special Christmas Day dinner delivery.
In addition, the charity has volunteers and staff ready to advise older people on issues relating to food, heat, or medication over the Christmas period.
CEO of the National Lottery, Dermot Griffin, said: “ALONE has benefitted in the past from National Lottery Good Causes funding through the Department of the Environment and the HSE and recently our staff spent a day volunteering with ALONE services in Willie Bermingham place in Kilmainham, Dublin. As a company, we are delighted to also now directly support this inspiring organisation which is doing outstanding work in communities all over Ireland. Like ALONE Premier Lotteries Ireland is rooted in every Irish community and both organisations are celebrating major birthdays this year - ALONE is 40 years old and we are 30 years old, so both organisations have grown together in a changing Ireland over the last several decades.”
Mr Griffin added: “We join with ALONE in urging the public to keep an eye on elderly friends, neighbours or relatives this Christmas, and indeed beyond. If everybody decided to “adopt” or to drop in on even one older person over the holiday season it could make a huge difference to so many people’s lives.”
Approximately 30 cent in every €1 spent on National Lottery games go back to Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage. In total more than €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €213 million for such good causes.
Further information on caring for older people, including advice and tips for older people in cold weather conditions and details on how you can support ALONE, can be found on www.alone.ie.