This festive season, we are appealing to the public to ‘make a spare card count’ and send their unused Christmas cards to people in their neighbourhood who might be feeling lonely or socially isolated.
Every Christmas, we sadly receive a high level of calls from people who don’t need help from police but who have no-one else to turn to.
Last Christmas our control room received over 28,000 calls in a two week period. These included calls from people who were lonely, anxious, vulnerable or frightened and who desperately needed comfort and reassurance. In the last 12 months over 17,000 of our calls have been linked to loneliness.
This year please spare a thought – and a card – for neighbours who might be feeling alone. Instead of putting spare Christmas cards back in the box, you could use them to reach out to those in your community who might be lonely, elderly or vulnerable and would benefit from a friendly greeting.
It might be someone you see every day but have never spoken to, a neighbour who lives alone and doesn’t have many visitors, or a person who’s new to the community. It’s important to remember that loneliness and isolation can affect anyone of any age and for a huge number of reasons. One small act of kindness can mean so much and a spare Christmas card could potentially be a lifeline to someone at a time when they need it most.
Things you can do to help your neighbours this Christmas:
• Say “hello” and smile when you see them
• Consider who might be feeling lonely or isolated and make a special effort to engage with them
• Send a card with a friendly note explaining who and where you are and letting them know you’ll be around if they need help
• You may wish to give a contact number so they have someone to call if they have a problem. Local volunteer schemes are set up to support this
• Keep an eye out for unusual activity e.g. not following a usual routine or leaving post or deliveries unattended for a while
• Check if they need help or support in difficult weather conditions
• Rogue traders and criminals target elderly and vulnerable people so keep an eye out for suspicious activity in the neighbourhood
• Use Christmas as a way to build relationships with your neighbours which can last all-year round
As always, Avon and Somerset Police will be available 24/7 this Christmas. Calling 999 should be used:
• when there is danger to life
• when a crime is in progress
• someone suspected of a crime is nearby or
• when violence is being used or threatened.
For a non-emergency response, you can report online via the force website or by calling 101.