Good Neighbours: NHS wants east Londoners to befriend elderly

Do you know any elderly people in your area? If so, you can help out by getting involved with our Go

Do you know any elderly people in your area? If so, you can help out by getting involved with our Good Neighbours appeal this Christmas. - Credit: Archant

Just days after the launch of the Post’s Christmas appeal, the NHS has started its own seasonal befriending service for the elderly.

As part of Good Neighbours, we are asking you to check on your elderly and isolated neighbours over the winter, to make sure they are warm enough and have everything they need.

Similarly, the NHS has issued a call for 100,000 people to sign a pledge saying they will also look in on an older friend or neighbour.

Each year thousands of people in England die as a result of cold weather. Most are over 75 and many of these deaths could be avoided. Hundreds of thousands of others spend much of the winter alone and lonely.

The campaign, led by the NHS Choices website ( and supported by the Daily Mail and the Telegraph media groups, seeks to help by appealing to an old-fashioned sense of neighbourliness. Specifically, it is asking for 100,000 people to sign an electronic pledge that states: “I will take time out this winter to look in on an elderly friend or neighbour to make sure they are warm and coping well.”

Those who sign the Winter Friends pledge in Newham, Tower Hamlets and Barking and Dagenham will receive free cold weather alerts and email tips throughout the winter to help them do their bit.

One of the first to sign the pledge is the actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley. She said yesterday that becoming a Winter Friend would not just help the elderly but bring great rewards to those that took part.

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Miss Lumley said: “A little help really does go a long way. You will also find, I’m sure, that giving a bit of your time in this way is hugely rewarding. Older people can be physically frail but they have a lifetime’s wisdom and experience to share.

“That’s why I’m proud to lend my support to the NHS Winter Friends Pledge. Please join me and together we can make sure this winter is a wonderful winter for everyone.”

People who want to sign the pledge should go to Signing the pledge takes only a moment but research suggests that if 100,000 people sign many lives will be enriched and many deaths avoided.

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