John Lewis has turned to the third sector in making its hotly anticipated Christmas advert. It’s lovely to see such a large organisation utilising the budget available to them to promote awareness of a charity. This year the John Lewis Christmas advert focusses on the story of a young girl who looks through her implausibly powerful telescope to see an old man alone on the moon. The girl attempts to reach him by any means possible, eventually settling on sending his Christmas gift up into the atmosphere via some impressive balloons. Her gift of a telescope proves that he is not alone, and that although he may feel that way many people are looking out for him.
This is a vital message. Age UK estimate that 1 million older people haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for at least a month. Take a second to allow that statistic to sink in. A month is such a long time to be alone, and this statistic is even more harrowing in the run up to Christmas. No-one should be alone at Christmas. Many of us associate the festive season with being surrounded by family and friends. However, as the population gets older and families get geographically more spread out it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to see their relatives on a regular basis.
It is such a shame that John Lewis did not mention Age UK during the advert. I feel as though the advert would be strengthened with the addition of the Age UK logo, if only to create lasting associations with the viewer’s emotions during the advert and seeing the logo while walking down North Road. It might not be immediately obvious to the average viewer that the festive advert is promoting the work of the charity. While Age UK is mentioned on the John Lewis website, this seems like a fairly important oversight on the part of John Lewis, and leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth. It is commendable that John Lewis is highlighting the important issue of loneliness, yet I feel that they could have done so more effectively with a explicitly stated partnership.
Regardless, Age UK are running a campaign alongside the John Lewis advert entitled ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’. Within this there is a petition for the Government to recognise that loneliness in the older population is not a normal part of ageing, and is instead a problem which can be tackled. This important petition can be signed here.
Another practical step you can take to combat loneliness in older people is to volunteer through SCA with the Generations Together project. You will be partnered with a local elderly resident to provide companionship and a friendly chat once or twice a fortnight. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference within the Durham community, and to play your very real part in alleviating elderly isolation. Email Millie at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about how you can help out.