Coca-Cola donates €30,000 to ALONE to help battle loneliness this Christmas

  • Coca-Cola is donating €30,000 to support ALONE services this Christmas and is asking young people around the country to connect safely with an older person and share a video, image or a story about it on social media using #CokexALONE to inspire others to do the same.

3rd December: Although Christmas in 2020 will be a little different, Coca-Cola is here to remind people that the connections we make during the festive season are more important than ever before. Between March and November this year there have been over 37,037 calls to ALONE National Support Line. Of those calling, a staggering 75% live alone**. As we head into the festive season, many older people will miss the social side of Christmas and have fewer opportunities to connect with others.It is safe to say young people have been affected in similar ways – many cut off from friends with less opportunities for social interactions, while losing the independence they once had. The past year has been tough; however, it has allowed many Irish people to readjust their priorities and understand the importance of being present and connected with one another.

Coca-Cola has partnered with ALONE to help battle loneliness by encouraging young people around the country to connect safely with an older person by giving the gift of themselves. Whether it’s your great aunt who you haven’t seen since the last family occasion, a neighbour you know is living alone or someone in the community you see from a distance in the local shop – make an effort to reach out and connect with them safely this Christmas and have a mutually beneficial experience. Did you know just 10 minutes of social interaction boosts brain function? A letter, a call, a quick Facetime, or a simple chat from the front garden wall can help lift the spirits of an older people to feel connected to their community. Coca-Cola and ALONE are asking people to share a video, image or a story about the connections they make with an older person on social media using #CokexALONE throughout the month of December, to inspire others to do the same. To the loneliest among us, just a small pocket of your time is the most priceless gift you can give.

ALONE & Coca-Cola have seven top tips on how best to connect safely with older people this Christmas;

  1. Check in with older neighbours, friends, and relatives to ensure they are warm and have enough supplies to keep the house at a comfortable temperature.
  2. As the evenings are getting dark so early, give an older person a little check in call to make sure they are okay.
  3. Consider checking in on an older person closer to Christmas Day to ensure they have everything they need and if they don’t, link them in with ALONE.
  4. Simply say Good Morning or Hello when passing an Older Person: even if they do not reply they will still get a kick out of hearing it! Remember they were you and you will one day be them.
  5. At a bus stop? Waiting in a Supermarket queue? Try saying something simple to them; chat about the weather, or give a compliment – lovely hat, your hair looks fab, getting all set for Christmas?
  6. Knock on the door of an older neighbour. Tell them who you are, and where you are from. Ask if there is anything they need or would like? “Are you a mince pie fan maybe?”
  7. If you see someone having a rest on their walk home, engage them in conversation – “Taking a break?” “Is it a long walk?” “If you would like some help, I am going that way too.”

Coca-Cola has always been part of what makes Christmas magical. This year, you can add your own sprinkle of magic to someone’s life in no time at all by sharing stories of connection on #CokexAlone

Mícheál O’Muircheartaigh, Coca-Cola and ALONE Ambassador said: The past year has been tricky for both older and younger people as we have been trying our best to keep our distance and having fewer social interactions. It is more important than ever that people in communities across Ireland connect with one another. I am delighted to work with Coca-Cola and ALONE on this campaign as it is an issue close to my heart. I know that many older people, myself included may feel isolated at times and I hope that people make the effort and reach out to someone who needs to most this Christmas and beyond. It is a great gift to both give and receive”.

Demi Isaac Oviawe, Coca-Cola and ALONE Ambassador said: I am honoured to be working with Coca-Cola and ALONE to help encourage young people to give the gift of themselves this Christmas. Using a small piece of your time to connect with an older person can really make a difference. Mícheál and I have had great fun chatting over the past few weeks – he’s even taught me how to make his iconic ham sandwiches. I will be keeping a close eye on #CokexALONE and I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the connections being made across the country, I’m hoping a huge amount of people will join us so we can really make a change”.

Karen O’Shea, Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola Ireland said: “Christmas this year may look a little different, but giving the gift of yourself could have a huge impact on those who need it most. We are delighted to donate €30,000 in an effort to help battle loneliness this Christmas. To support this we’re asking as many people as possible to give the gift of themselves to an older person, while also supporting ALONE’s services. Coca-Cola employees from around the country will also have the opportunity to attend a virtual event hosted by ALONE so we can learn more about the great work ALONE does throughout the year. Let’s make a difference together.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said: ALONE are delighted to partner with Coca-Cola this Christmas, to highlight the value of shared connections and solidarity across the generations. People of all ages will miss the closeness of social events at Christmas this year. For many older people, the lack of social interaction is all too familiar, throughout the year. Thanks to Coca-Cola we hope new connections and friendships will be made to share some of the joy of Christmas.”

Dr Sabina Brennan – Author 100 Days to a Younger Brain said: “Now more than ever we need to ensure that we stay socially connected. Human connection is inextricably linked to our physical mental and brain health.Loneliness is not just an unpleasant experience; it is quite literally a killer. Social interaction is a partnership that benefits everyone involved so both young and old will reap the physical, mental and brain health rewards of social support. Younger adults who connect socially with older adults tend to hold more positive attitudes towards older adults and ageing and so may well help to tackle ageism. Long periods of isolation can lead to social withdrawal and all the negative health implications

associated with that. Please do make the effort to reach out and connect with an older person. It is great that Coca-Cola and ALONE are helping the larger societal issue of loneliness this Christmas. You will benefit too, just 10 minutes social interaction boosts brain function.”

86-year-old retired journalist and ALONE services user Brian Rothery spoke about the importance of the work that ALONE does, he said;I recently lost my sight and had to move out of my farmhouse in Wexford and I was wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was delighted to be connected to the lovely Carley through ALONE. It means everything to me, she helps me with my podcasts, which I post regularly on Spotify and YouTube. I feel more needs to be done by the community to help older people stay connected, especially during the pandemic. It is great that Coca-Cola and ALONE are bringing awareness to this issue and I’m looking forward to seeing all the pictures and stories online in the lead up to Christmas”.

As part of Coca-Cola’s support for ALONE, five young influential faces from around the country will be helping by encouraging their followers to give the gift of themselves and connect with an older person who needs it the most this Christmas. Model Holly Carpenter, Rising Social Media StarReece Creed andSinger SongwriterErica Cody in ROI and Cool FM DJ Rebecca McKinney and Travel BloggerFran McKee in NI, will be documenting their own journey of connecting with an older person during the month of December. Follow their Instagram pages throughout the month of December to see the undeniable benefits of that all-important connection!