The new campaign Who Cares? draws attention to the 900,000 older people in Britain struggling with loneliness

After Tom’s wife died after 22 years of marriage, he was unable to express the deep grief he felt. When his cooker also broke down, Tom felt as if things were conspiring against him. He contacted St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), a Catholic charity, and volunteers visited him to find out exactly what he needed – and discovered that the kitchen appliance had very little to do with it.

SVP member Claire says: “The first time we met Tom he was grumpy and embarrassed to be asking for help. We listened to his needs over a cup of tea. We were able to find him a cooker fairly quickly, but far more importantly, Tom has become a very dear friend, with whom we have shared many, many cups of tea. As is so often the case, the cooker was the cover for a much deeper need.”

Starting this week and throughout September the SVP’s new awareness campaign Who Cares? will focus on loneliness, poverty and illness. Visiting and befriending people at home is the primary work of the SVP’s volunteer members. Every year the SVP’s 8,000 volunteers make half a million visits to offer friendship and practical support to people who have nowhere else to turn. For older people who may be too frail to leave their homes, single parents struggling to cope alone, or refugees new to the country and finding it difficult to adapt, SVP members are a source of love and care.

“Friendship is a most effective answer to loneliness,” says Adrian Abel, president at the charity. “With over 900,000 older people in the UK experiencing social isolation, the SVP’s 8,000 members have been making it their mission to seek out, befriend and help many of this country’s lonely.”

The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international Christian voluntary organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing practical assistance to those in need.

If you would like to join or support the SVP, please visit www.svp.org.uk, telephone 0207 703 3030, or email info@svp.org.uk.