Pensioners should get ‘Happy hour’ of free calls every day to fend off coronavirus loneliness, MPs demand

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A group of 50 MPs are demanding the Government order firms to create the ‘Happy Hour’ to stave off an epidemic of isolation among over 75s.

MPs have called for a happy hour for older people ot keep in touch during the pandemic

Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone, who is spearheading the campaign, said it is vital the elderly are helped to keep in touch with their friends and family during the lockdown.

He told HOAR: “Calling elderly family and friends to see how they are is seriously important because, sadly, a lot of people are fearful right now.

“Not in any way to underestimate the absolute danger of coronavirus, but all of us have a duty to cheer each other up.

“With two million pensioners living in poverty and so many more at risk due to this crisis, it is our responsibility as a nation to make sure we’re not isolating this vulnerable population even further.

“Happy Hour calls will help older people to stay in touch with their loved ones and avoid loneliness during this global crisis.

“Alleviating just this little bit of financial pressure could make all the difference to someone struggling with loneliness right now.”

Mr Stone is calling for action after Judith Perham, who lives in his constituency of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross in Scotland, got in touch with the idea.

She said: “I know I’m probably one of the lucky ones to be able to use some of – not all of the modern technology – but l also know there are an awful lot of us older generation that don’t.

“I think that giving some sort of free time on the phone would be of a benefit to them in order to contact family, who might also be experiencing financial hardship at this time and trying to be careful with money.

“This is especially important when living in a rural area as we do in the far north of Scotland.

“We all need to be looking out for each other at this time and, if this achieves a result, then l know that with your help we have helped someone somewhere.”

The letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urges him to “continue to do all you can to help the most isolated vulnerable people during this health crisis”.

Some 50 MPs, including Lib Dem, Labour and Tory politicians, have signed the letter.

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