16 November 2017

Bisto Spare Chair Sunday back for 2017

Do you have a spare chair at your Sunday dinner table? Because a staggering 40 per-cent of over 70’s in Britain are skipping meals due to loneliness.

New research by Bisto reveals how loneliness is affecting the appetite of Britain’s oldest generations

- Over a quarter of over 70’s who skip meals, skip at least one meal every single day to avoid eating on their own
- Seven out of ten over 70’s feel more cheerful and have a bigger appetite when eating with family and friends

One of the nation’s most loved brands, Bisto, and national charity Contact the Elderly are re-joining forces to bring back Spare Chair Sunday, a community initiative to help tackle the issue of loneliness by bringing people together over a home-cooked favourite, a Sunday Roast. 

Sadly, many over 70’s living in the UK spend their days alone, isolated from friends and family, or simply too frail to leave home. As we live longer, loneliness is an issue affecting a huge number of people and it’s impacting their daily meal routines. Today a staggering 40 per-cent of people over 70 find meals on their own so lonely they decide to skip them completely, with one in four skipping a meal every single day.  

Bisto Spare Chair Sunday aims to combat this by encouraging people to get involved and offer a spare chair at their dinner table for an older person in their community who would otherwise eat alone.

To raise awareness of the initiative, Bisto has identified four older people to share their fascinating life stories and collaborated with illustrator Mr Doodle to bring the stories to life on four limited edition chairs. These are just a few of the interesting stories from the older people affected by loneliness that are ready to be invited over to share a Sunday roast. The uniquely designed chairs can only be paid for with a simple act of kindness by signing up to Spare Chair Sunday. 

Helen George is encouraging people to sign up to offer a spare chair at their dinner table for an older person in their community at

Raising awareness of Spare Chair Sunday, Helen George said: “The serious issue of loneliness amongst older people is one that I feel very passionately about and so I felt privileged to be invited by Bisto to help raise awareness of Spare Chair Sunday. 

“Becoming a new mum has made me look at what family traditions I want to continue for my very own family. One of them is bringing the whole family together for quality time and there is no better way do this than at the dinner table. 
“Unfortunately though, there are many older generations who no longer get this opportunity to share a meal with family or friends and are often eating alone. That’s why I’m really looking forward to being part of Spare Chair Sunday and offering a spare chair at my Sunday roast dinner table to an older person in my local community who doesn’t have their own family to share it with.”   

Tackling loneliness in Britain’s older community In addition to the main findings, over a third (39 per-cent) of older people in the UK said they only got to eat a meal with family or friends once a month or less. Those who are lucky enough to enjoy a meal with friends and family, say they feel more cheerful and have a bigger appetite when they have company (70 per-cent). 
The home-cooked meal most requested by those over 70 was a roast dinner, with more than half (58 per-cent) declaring it their favourite meal. 

Cliff Rich, Acting CEO, at Contact the Elderly says: “We are delighted to be working with Bisto again on the Spare Chair Sunday project. We know how important sharing a meal can be in helping to tackle the complex problem of social isolation in older people. Our guests that attended Spare Chair Sunday lunches last time thoroughly enjoyed their experience and outings such as these can make a huge impact on the life of someone who might otherwise struggle to get out of the house. Last time the Spare Chair Sunday campaign led to around 1,800 older people being able to share a meal with new friends. 

“Bisto is the perfect partner to help bring people together by doing something as simple as offering a chair at their Sunday dinner table.” 

Helen Warren Piper, Marketing Director Bisto, says: “We have a 100-year heritage of bringing people together around the dinner table, for home cooked meals. Spare Chair Sunday is an important initiative of our successful Together Project, and we are delighted to bring Spare Chair Sunday back this year in collaboration with our partners at Contact the Elderly. 

“We were able to help a huge number of people through our Spare Chair Sunday project when it first launched in 2015 with around 400 volunteers offering spare chairs at their dinner tables. 

“We are really pleased to be able to play our part once again in tackling loneliness amongst older people in the UK. This year we are excited to have the backing of Helen George to help us encourage even more volunteers to get involved with hosting an older person at their home.”  


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