Sky launches new campaign to help tackle loneliness amongst older people

Wednesday 16 June 2021
  • Employees from Sky’s customer service group receive dedicated time each week to speak to older people
  • New befriending line launches to support Sky’s older customers
  • Sky signs up to support Loneliness Awareness Week and joins the Tackling Loneliness Network

This Loneliness Awareness Week Sky has announced a new initiative, Time to Care, in partnership with Age UK and other older peoples’ charities, to help tackle loneliness across the country. The newly launched Time to Care is part of Sky’s wide-ranging volunteering programme, Sky Cares, which allows employees to give back to the communities where they live and work.

Over the past 18 months, Sky have been supporting their flagship partner, Age UK, with loneliness a key area of focus for the partnership. This past year has shown just how valuable and important social interaction is to everybody, especially to some older people. Last winter Age UK reported that 6.1 million people aged 60 and over said that they were feeling lonely while 2.2 million of over 60s who had their well-being impacted by coronavirus said that they haven’t had anyone to talk to about their worries during the pandemic.

Time to Care will harness the passion and power of Sky’s 15,000 customer service group colleagues and aims to achieve one million interactions with older people each year. The customer service group, which is made up of contact centre staff, retail staff, engineers and their respective support teams, will be given dedicated time each week to volunteer and get in touch with older customers.

Chris Stylianou, Chief Operating Officer, UK and Ireland, Sky said:For too many older people, the isolation we’ve experienced over this difficult year is permanent. Loneliness is a devastating growing social issue but with the expertise of Age UK we believe Sky can help make real change and connections where they are needed to have a lasting impact.

“We recognise the role we play in keeping people connected and look forward to supporting the UK Government’s work to tackle loneliness and share our insight with other members of the Tackling Loneliness Network.”

Steph Harland, Chief Executive, Age UK said: “The pandemic has taken its toll on our older population’s health and morale and, for many, has intensified existing feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Age UK's research has demonstrated just how important connection is to them. It found, for example, that when it comes to getting through the pandemic, 5.8 million older people said they wouldn’t have managed it without their friendsiii and almost 2 million older people said they wouldn't have coped without the kindness of strangersiv.

“In these difficult and uncertain times older people need friendly connections like never before. This is where Sky comes in: through Time to Care, Sky employees will be doing something tangible to help us to support the millions of older people who may otherwise have no one to turn to. We’re so grateful to Sky for keeping older people in their minds.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Sky has supported local Age UK partners across England, Age Cymru partners and Age Scotland groups. Leveraging Age UK’s expertise, Sky engineers have spent more than 1,000 hours delivering goods to those most in need through the pandemic. This included delivering meals and gifts on behalf of 15 different local Age UKs. Additionally, Sky volunteers have dedicated more than 4,000 hours since April 2020 to support Age UK, Age Scotland, Age Cymru, the Silver Line Helpline and Sky’s own in-house befriending line. This in-house befriending line supports Sky's older customers with weekly friendship calls and is staffed by Sky’s customer service group who are able to reach out to customers who might need someone to talk to.

Sky has also signed-up to the government’s Tackling Loneliness Network, convened by DCMS, to share knowledge and best practice on how businesses can help tackle loneliness and to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding the issue along with the more than 80 other members of the network.

Media contacts: Kabir Parhar, Corporate Communications and Campaigns Exec, Kabir.parhar@sky.uk

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.

Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service. Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

About Age UK

Age UK is a national charity that works with a network of partners, including Age Scotland, Age Cymru, Age NI and local Age UKs across England, to help everyone make the most of later life, whatever their circumstances.

In the UK, the Charity helps more than seven million older people each year by providing advice and support. It also researches and campaigns on the issues that matter most to older people. Its work focuses on ensuring that older people: have enough money; enjoy life and feel well; receive high quality health and care; are comfortable, safe and secure at home; and feel valued and able to participate

Age UK’s subsidiary charity, Age International, supports older people globally in over 30 developing countries by funding programmes such as vital emergency relief and healthcare and campaigning to raise awareness and change policies.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and registered company number 6825798). Charitable services are provided through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s Community Interest Company (CiC) (registered company number 1102972) which donates its net profits to Age UK (the Charity).

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