By Alex Smith
Summer. It’s a time of fun and friendship, sun and sea and, this year, sport. With the World Cup and Wimbledon injecting a festival feel across the world, many of us are now looking forward to an extended party with loved ones, catching some rays and indulging on ice cream and (Long Island) iced teas.
But for many people, summer isn’t a time of celebration. Instead, the long days and balmy nights – and the sense everyone is having fun – can create a sense of longing. Times and Trafalgar Squares may be thronging with tourists, but for those who are unable to travel, or have no one to travel with, that heavy feeling of loneliness can creep in.
For Lil, who is 85 years-old and has lived alone since losing her partner a decade ago, summer is an exercise in battling solitude. I met Lil in London seven years ago, so I know she keeps a busy schedule – film nights on Tuesdays, bingo on Wednesdays – because she “can’t bear to be between four walls.” When daylight drags into summer evenings, Lil takes a cab around her neighbourhood just to have someone to talk to. She arrives at the local fish and chip shop, where she snatches at conversation with hungry punters as they rush in and out for fast food – just to have someone to chat to.
This summer loneliness is not a rare phenomenon. Last year, one UK hotline for older people
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