This past year has been difficult for us all in different ways but it has undoubtedly highlighted just how valuable and important social interaction is to our daily lives. Before the pandemic many of us may have even taken it for granted – the simple acts of catching up with a friend or visiting loved ones are things we’ve had to put on pause.
This Loneliness Awareness Week gives us time to reflect and consider, what if the isolation we’ve all experienced over the last year wasn’t temporary and there was no end in sight of that lonely feeling? For 3 million people across the UK this is their reality.
Research shows one in four people over the age of 65 feel they have no-one to turn to for help and support. It’s also something which could impact us all, with an estimated 1.5 million of us expected to experience loneliness at some point in our lives.
At Sky, our business is built around keeping people connected and we have a responsibility to go beyond just doing that through our products and our services. We want to and need to do more to help. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been volunteering with Age UK, the leading charity for older people, to help tackle loneliness – one of the key focus areas of our Sky Cares initiative since its launch.
Time To Care
I’m proud to say that we have now launched Time to Care, to help tackle loneliness across the UK. Through Time to Care we’re aiming to have 1 million interactions with older people each year and to help reach this goal we’re giving our thousands of customer service group colleagues dedicated time each week as we tackle loneliness together. Our colleagues across Sky are already playing an important part. We have over 500 of our contact centre colleagues speaking with older customers every week and our home service engineers have delivered over 300,000 items supporting local Age UKs and other charities. Colleagues have also donated more than 4000 gifts, including tablets and mobiles, and written over 7000 Christmas cards to help people stay connected.
Tackling Loneliness Network
We’re also delighted to have joined the UK Government’s Tackling Loneliness Network. This cross-sector group brought together by DCMS, has more than 80 members from across the private, public and charity sector and was set-up to create a joined-up approach to tackling loneliness, where we can discuss learnings and best practice. We’re keen to share all our knowledge from Time to Care and use our voice in partnership with others to help tackle the stigma associated with loneliness.
Sky is committed to giving back to the communities where we live and work, especially at times like these. Loneliness is a growing social issue, but we believe we can use the passion and power of our people to help make real change and connections where they are needed to have lasting impact.
You can find out more about our new Sky befriending line supporting our customers with weekly friendship calls.