SCORES of lonely pensioners were left with a smile on their faces after attending a new Older Person’s Fair.
The free event was staged at Portsmouth Cathedral and offered the city’s elderly a plethora of health advice and information on community groups and associations.
More importantly, it gave some of the area’s most isolated residents a chance to discover what help there is on offer to combat crippling loneliness.
Rheumatoid arthritis sufferer Angela Barrie, 69, was visiting yesterday with husband Michael, 88, of King William Street, Portsea.
She said: ‘This has certainly helped open my eyes to the number of things going on that I didn’t know about. As we become older and less able you lose touch with these things. So today has been great.’
The morning was the brainchild of Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, who has been organising it since November.
She hailed the day a ‘stunning success’ adding that more people came through the cathedral’s doors than she had expected.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘Loneliness is an incredibly big issue for the city of Portsmouth’s elderly population.
‘One 84-year-old lady who came today told me she doesn’t talk to anyone for a week. It’s very sad.
‘This is something that needs to change. You hear all too often about lonely veterans who die and there is an appeal to get people to go to their funeral. Well that’s really too late. We have got to get in earlier.’
The event featured 26 stalls ranging from Portsmouth City Council’s community team, to health groups and emergency services teams.
Among those running a stall was Kay Duffy, area manager for old person’s helpline, The Silver Line.
The charity offers a 24/7 service for lonely pensioners, with volunteers providing friendship and advice.
Kay said: ‘We’ve had users of our helpline here today.
‘Events like this one are very important to reaching out to older people – it’s a one-stop shop for information.’