A LONDON care company is encouraging relatives to give the ‘gift of time’ this Christmas.
Gubbe was debuted in Finland to combat loneliness using helpers, who are often students working part-time alongside their studies, through a subscription-based service.
Now it’s urging Brits to remember their older neighbours and relatives during the festive season.
It comes as Age UK warned that 1.5million people feel more lonely at Christmas than any other time of year.
The isolated elderly
Sandra Lounamaa, co-founder of Gubbe, said: “We launched Gubbe in London in October following a number of successful years operating in Finland and Sweden, where we have thousands of customers.
“The Covid pandemic has isolated the elderly immensely in Nordic countries.
“They live further away from their families than ever and the long-lasting effect on mental health has been brutal. We are now seeing how needed this service is in the UK.
“Last year we had over 300 new customers who purchased our service as a Christmas present for the elderly and we are expecting to see hundreds more this year.”
Gubbe means ‘buddy’ or ‘friend’ and specifically refers to an older person.
The company offers a subscription-based service to help seniors stay active by pairing them with young people, often students, who they share similar interests with.
A Gubbe helper can do household chores or caregiving tasks. It’s available to both private homes and nursing homes.
Sandra, who launched the service after struggling to spend as much time as she would like with her own grandmother, said: “Around 75% of our Gubbe visits occur normally during the holiday season, meaning there are thousands of Gubbe visits happening during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is truly heartwarming to see.
“Throughout the month of December we also help older people to decorate their house, visit a Christmas market or church service, make Christmas presents, go for a walk, or call relatives together.
“Some of our customers also order the service so they have someone keeping them company on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
“This time of year can be incredibly difficult for people who are already isolated because it only serves to heighten the feelings of loneliness.
“Often Christmas is the season when relatives really wake up to the reality of loneliness for their elderly relatives. It’s a shame it takes a special holiday for people to realise how lonely life can be all year round for some people. It’s so important to extend a hand of friendship to older people.”
Gubbe also runs programmes with UK companies who can sponsor weekly visits for the elderly.