Focus: Campaign of the week - Help the Aged wants to Hug you

Tania Mason, tania.mason@haynet.com

Help the Aged has begun building momentum for its second annual Hug campaign, aimed at bridging the generation gaps that contribute to loneliness among older people.

The objective of Hug - or Helping Unite Generations - is to raise awareness and funds to relieve the isolation and extreme loneliness felt by many older people. Help the Aged claims that more than a million older people in the UK go a whole month without seeing anyone they know.

More than £150,000 was raised in last year's campaign, and this year the charity hopes new elements such as The Big Hug, a workplace fundraising drive, will boost this beyond £200,000.

Although Hug activities will take place in April, press and poster adverts urging people to get involved began appearing last week as part of an integrated online and offline campaign. The ads, which feature celebrities such as Chris Tarrant and Phil Collins, promote the Hug hotline number and the web address, allhug.org.uk, both of which provide information for people wishing to take part. The posters have gone up in Help the Aged shops and ads are appearing in trade titles.

The campaign will comprise three major activities - Hug Month, Hug Day and Hug Quiz. On Hug Day, 7 April, teams of tin-rattlers will be in train stations, supermarkets and Help the Aged shops. During Hug Month, raffle tickets, purple Hug badges and wristbands will be sold in stores and building society branches. For Hug Quiz, supported for the second consecutive year by Chris Tarrant, Help the Aged hopes thousands of people nationwide will host or attend quizzes in which all questions will be concerned with a 'generations' theme. The charity will provide quiz packs during April.

Ads promoting the quiz will appear in The Publican magazine.

Other celebrities who have offered their backing include David Tennant and Davina McCall.

The funds raised will be channelled into Help the Aged's core services, such as its Senior Mobility community transport scheme, its SeniorLink 24-hour emergency response service and SeniorLine - freephone advice on welfare issues.

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