Ritchie supports ‘no one should have no one at Christmas’ campaign
South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has called for the Government and local health Trusts to do more to tackle loneliness, particularly among elderly people. Speaking after the launch of the campaign by AgeUK, Margaret Ritchie emphasized the need for awareness and support for those who are alone at Christmas;
“It is completely unacceptable that anybody is alone for any significant period of time, but for somebody to be completely alone at a time when family and friends are meant to get together is very depressing.
More than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to friends, family members or even neighbours. People who have worked their entire lives and enjoyed an active social life find themselves alone and depressed despite promises from the Government that our care system is satisfactory. We lack sufficient funding and support to care for the mental health of all people, but particularly those suffering from loneliness and depression.
It is time that the Northern Ireland Executive and the British Government does more to tackle the issue of loneliness. I have made representations to the Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, urging him to do so. The Health and Social Care Board, along with the Health Trusts, should make tackling loneliness amongst the elderly a priority for the New Year. If anybody is alone next Christmas, or at any time during the year, it will be a reflection of the failure of the Government to care for its citizens.”