A charity is urging the public to check up on their neighbours ahead of what can be a difficult time of year for some.

Southern Befrienders, a charity which tackles loneliness for those who are 60 and over has highlighted the plight of those who feel lonely around this period.

Val Haslam, scheme manager at Southern Befrienders said: ‘Loneliness can impact anyone at any time, but at Christmas the issue can become more acute.’

She added: ‘There is a lot of pressure at Christmas and New Years Eve to have a great time with others, but particularly for those who face social isolation, this is not always possible.

‘Yet because of that pressure, people can notice that feeling of loneliness more.’

Ms Haslam said that it can be difficult for the charity to identify and find the people who are lonely, or experience social isolation.

She said: ‘We try to draw people’s attention to the fact that there may be someone behind closed doors, people can become invisible when they are isolated.

‘If you notice you haven’t seen someone in a while, it might be nice to post a note through their door to ask if the person would welcome a visit from you.

‘Also, for those who deliver milk, post the mail or newspapers, it’s important to notice if their mail is piling up, so everyone can play a role in helping those behind closed doors.’

Val Haslam, who is retiring this week after seven years at the helm of the charity, said: ‘I couldn’t have chosen a better cause, a better charity or a better team to finish my working life.’

Jonathan Hall, chair of the charity, said: ‘Val has been exceptional in broadcasting the message that loneliness can have such damaging effects on mental, emotional and physical health.

‘Whilst befriending is still at the core of the charity’s activities, social isolation takes many forms and Val has found creative ways of tackling them.’

If you are feeling lonely, you can contact Southern Befrienders on 833025, with the charity offering social events, and one to one companionship schemes.

If you are alone this Christmas, the Nag’s Head in Douglas, and the Living Hope Church provide free Christmas meals.

You do not need to book for the Nag’s Head and for the Living Hope’s meal, which will be held in St Joseph’s Church you can book by calling 493500 to let the group know how many people, and whether you need transport.