Six million or one in seven (14%) people across the UK will go through Christmas Day without a face-to-face conversation this year, according to new research from Greene King.
A nationally representative survey found that, of those spending Christmas Day alone, 16% will do so because their relatives or friends they would like to see live too far away, or are unable to travel, and 13% have yet to be invited to see anyone.
These findings follow the announcement that Greene King will be committing £250,000 worth of free Christmas meals, the equivalent of around 5,500 meals, to customers that might be on their own this festive season, in participating pubs (including its Flaming Grill and Hungry Horse sites) as part of its Christmas Community Tables initiative.
General managers from participating pubs will be inviting six people from their local community, who are planning to spend Christmas by themselves, to enjoy a three-course meal on the house.
This follows Greene King’s recently launched Hungry Horse Toy Boxing appeal, which collects donations of pre-loved and new toys to donate to local charities. In addition, team members from Greene King’s support centres in Bury St Edmunds and Burton-on-Trent are supporting local food banks by donating items for families in need.
Greene King hopes that these free meals will help to combat the feeling of loneliness this time of year, which is likely to be compounded for many by the cost of living.
Mark Gordon, General Manager of The King’s Arms, Hungry Horse said:
“Christmas can be a difficult time for many of us, so I’m proud to say that my pub will be participating in the Christmas Community Tables.
“We trialled the initiative last year with some regulars who I knew would be spending the day alone. They came in on Christmas Day, enjoyed a great meal and had a lovely time together. They didn’t know each other before Christmas and now they come in regularly as a group.”
Nick Mackenzie, CEO of Greene King, said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across the country, bringing people together from all walks of life. I’m pleased that we can play our part by bringing festive joy to as many as 5,500 people, who may otherwise be spending Christmas alone.”