Photo by Kristopher Trolle on Flickr
While for many people Christmas is a time for family, friends and festivities, hundreds of thousands of people in the UK will be spending Christmas alone this year. For many it will be the first Christmas since the death of a life-long partner.
The Covid pandemic has made meeting up and socialising even more difficult for many people, but there are lots of ways to avoid feeling lonely, from online classes and social groups, to outdoor activites. Many indoor groups are also opening up again, so if you are feeling alone during the festive period, then there are plenty of places to find companionship.
If you are recently bereaved, you might not want to celebrate the festivities at all, but if you are looking for company, or just a phone call, then here are some ideas and organisations that can help.
What can you do if you are worried about being alone at Christmas?
Photo by Jonathan Cutrer on Flickr
If you are worried about being alone at Christmas there are thousands of community events happening around the UK where everyone is welcome.
There are Christmas dinners, walks, coffee mornings, drinks and gatherings in village halls, pubs and other venues around the country.
Where can you find community events on Christmas Day?
Reengage, a charity that supports older people who are alone, has an annual appeal to organise "Community Christmas" events, such as lunches.
Photo by Mike Carter on Flickr
You can find an event near you by typing your city or postcode into the search box on Reengage's interactive map of Community Christmas Events.
Many of these events are free to attend and you do not have to book them in advance, but it is a good idea to check the event details before you decide to go.
What can you do if you still feel alone at Christmas?
If a loved one has died, you can still feel lonely even when you are surrounded by people. This is perfectly normal and you might have to accept that sadness will happen. Practicing techniques such as grief meditation and mindfulness can be helpful, especially if you find the festivities overwhelming.
There are also lots of other practical ways to cope with grief throughout Christmas and New Year, such as going for walks.
Photo by Andrew on Flickr.
Try to take care of yourself; avoid drinking too much alcohol if it makes you feel worse, and tell people how you are feeling.
Who can you speak to if you need help to cope with your grief at Christmas?
It's good to tell people you meet about your feelings, but sometimes it might be better to speak to someone who has had specialist training in supporting bereaved people.
There are lots of bereavement support and grief counselling organisations you can contact if you would like to do this, including The Samaritans (116 123).
What can you do if you are alone in the new year?
The loss of a loved one, especially a partner, parent or a child, can make you feel lonely all year, but there are things you can do to find companionship.
There are lots of social activity groups in all areas of the country, which are free to join or have very low membership fees.
Walking groups provide an excellent opportunity to get exercise and chat to different people.
Language classes also encourage you to speak to other people, and there are also sociable music groups where you can learn a new instrument alongside other like-minded people.
If you are an older person you can find information on social groups in your local area on Age UK. If you have difficulty getting out and about you can request visits by a volunteer from the Befriending Network.
U3A runs classes and groups for older people across the country.
Photo by Richard Boyle on Unsplash
Volunteering at a charity shop or other community group you are interested in can also help you meet people with similar interests and passions to you.