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Age UK teams up with Coronation Street to highlight Christmas loneliness

Age UK is teaming up with Coronation Street for an emotive campaign to highlight the loneliness faced by some elderly people during the festive season.

As part of its wider 'No one should have no one to turn to' campaign, the charity has inked a partnership with ITV that will see it tie its ads to a storyline involving the soap's much-beloved character, Rita Sullivan.

In Wednesday's (18 December) episode, Sullivan will be shown feeling lonely and like she's a burden to those around her. She will fall and hurt herself, but won't be found until hours later.

During the ad break, real older people will reflect on how they've how the fictional storyline resonates with them. Age UK then expresses how it helped them recover and get their life back on track. Other spots are slated to run on-air across 20 and 23 December.

Age UK helped Coronation Street research the script to reflect the reality for many older people. The ads will play in the first in break after each episode, starting from 20.30 on Wednesday and will seamlessly flow across digital including social, where the story of those people featured will be told in more detail.

The partnership follows a survey conducted by YouGov for Age UK that found that over 2.5 million older people feel they have no one to turn to for help and support. Coping with bereavement, feeling lonely, getting the right social care and managing health problems like dementia, were some of the issues complicating the matter.

In using TV to raise awareness of this stark reality, Manning Gottlieb OMD said it had identified ITV’s Coronation Street as a "perfect platform" to reach its target audience, directing them to its free advice line (which is open every day of the year, including Christmas) and encouraging the public to make a donation.

Kathi Hall, head of content strategy and brand at Age UK, said: “This is a really exciting collaboration and a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness and isolation at Christmas time.

"We hope that Rita’s story, and the stories of Terrence, Gwen and Colin, will get people talking about this important issue and inspire action. We all have a role to play in helping to ensure that no older person feels they are facing the struggles of later life alone."

Terence, who features in one of the ads. found fame earlier this month after appearing as an interviewee on BBC breakfast to discuss loneliness and how he'd spent Christmas day alone for the last 20 years.

After the public reaction to his story, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker and some people from Oldham College set out to deliver some Christmas cheer to his door by surprising him with some carols and a tree in a video that has since gone viral.

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