At this time of year, many of us are looking forward to spending time with our loved ones. But for others, winter - and particularly Christmas - can be a lonely time that accentuates feelings of social isolation.

There are some in our communities, such as people with disabilities and the elderly, who need help to go to the shops, take their dog for a walk or simply keep the house tidy.

Recent research by United Response found that over 70% of respondents knew the names of some or most of their neighbours, and these existing connections can be built on to increase people’s opportunities to socialise in their community.

If you know a neighbour or person nearby who perhaps lives alone, or struggles to get out and about to run their errands, why not offer to help?

Small acts of kindness

Sweeping a neighbour’s path makes it easier for them to leave the house without slipping on ice and leaves, and allows them to maintain a sense of pride in the appearance of their home.  A simple five-minute job of sweeping up leaves (or even snow depending on where you live) could really work as a dual tool to help combat social isolation.

Helping with little tasks that many of us take for granted can make a significant difference to those who are isolated within their own communities, and a small act of kindness can boost someone’s confidence and make them feel cared for.

Our Community Advent Calendar

Throughout December, we are using our Community Advent Calendar to highlight what you can do to encourage greater interaction with those in your local area and build lasting relationships to help tackle social isolation.

To find out more about what you can do, download our Community Advent Calendar or tweet us @UnitedResponse with your ideas on how to #combatisolation.

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.