MORE than 220,000 elderly people are struggling with loneliness in the south east, new figures have revealed.

A new survey for Age UK’s No One Should Have No One To Turn To campaign finds that Christmas is the loneliest time of the year for more than 220,000 older people in the South East, with those who have been widowed feeling it the most.

Age UK’s research found that 80 percent of over 65s in the south east agree that the first Christmas after losing someone you love is the hardest.

Now with up to 26,000 older people in the region soon to face their first Christmas without their spouse, the charity is calling on the public for support.

Across the UK, the research found that over 750,000 older widowed people often feel more lonely over Christmas than at any other time of the year; with over 200,000 older widows and widowers not looking forward to the festive season because they will be alone.

Dev Griffin, Age UK ambassador, said: “We should all be taking a few minutes out of our day to chat to those around you, whether it’s your grandad or the older lady at your bus stop – you could be the first person they’ve spoken to for a long time.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to see first-hand the work Age UK is doing to help older people at their local clubs and I can see how much these types of social activities and regular catch ups mean to older people, especially those who are really struggling.

“I would love for you to join me and support Age UK’s No one should have no one to turn to campaign this Christmas and let’s all be there for the older people who need us.”

The campaign, No One Should Have No One To Turn To, is shining a light on how tough this time of year can be for many older people, especially if they are on their own having lost their partner.