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Acting out

Nine out of 10 Britons admit that they regularly go through a whole day without performing a simple act of kindness for someone else, a new study has found - and almost 25 per cent cannot remember the last time they went out of their way to show kindness to another human being at all.

Polling commissioned by the charity Friends of the Elderly, which ran a campaign to combat loneliness among older people over Christmas, also discovered that a third of people say they have never even considered performing an act of kindness for an older person - often because they cannot 'relate' to other generations. Sixteen per cent said that they were 'too scared', and one in seven claimed they could not find the time.

Half of all over 75s in the UK live alone and a million elderly people suffer serious loneliness. 90 per cent say they regularly go through a day without a single act of kindness. 46 per cent of those over 65 cannot remember the last time anyone did anything kind for them.

Friends of the Elderly has been attempting to recruit thousands of people to sign a pledge to perform some of those simple acts of kindness, which it has become clear they might not have considered before (26 per cent of those surveyed couldn't even think of something kind they could do for an elderly person). Suggestions range from giving up a seat on a bus or train, offering to help someone with their shopping, or telephoning an older person who may be lonely.

The charity regularly carries out surveys of this nature. Based on a range of factors related to wellbeing in later life including respect, dementia awareness, housing, facilities, safety, public transport, environment, and whether residents would recommend their city to others and its friendliness in general, the 'Frienderly Town' survey found Belfast to be the best place to live for older people, with London the worst.