With Londoners being instructed to stay inside once again, pensioners and Sutton's most vulnerable will continue to fight loneliness over the winter period.

Since March, older people have had to try to adapt to the pandemic, with some being denied close contact with their families and friends in fear of contracting coronavirus.

And for five days only, some of the UK's most vulnerable planned to reunite with their loved ones to celebrate Christmas, with a hint of normality.

But following the recent Tier 4 announcement, the Christmas relaxation will now be scaled back to just one day, instead of five.

Independent charity Age UK Sutton tells us how 'lockdown never stopped' for the UK's most vulnerable.

Your Local Guardian: Age UK Sutton reach thousands with support Age UK Sutton reach thousands with support

Between April and October, the charity recorded over 30,000 contacts with older people- which includes phone calls, doorstep welfare checks, home visits, befriending calls and more.

Chief Executive Officer at Age UK Sutton, Nicola Upton said: "We have seen people really struggle with isolation and loneliness.

"We surveyed people we spoke to in September and over half of the people we spoke to said they were scared to come out. There was not a lockdown at that point.

"People said they were worried to go out because they weren’t sure if everything was going to be ok.

"There is very clear guidance, but that doesn’t stop people from being nervous."

Your Local Guardian: Nicola Nicola

Speaking about the impact of Tier 4 restrictions, Nicola added: "People have seen Christmas as something to look forward to because we have had the easing with restrictions.

"What we are seeing with the people we are talking to is that they are very disappointed but are also very worried.

"People have got to make their own decision based on what they think is best for them and the people that they care about.

"These are really hard decisions to make because even if you are not religious, Christmas is a significant time for a lot of people.

She added: "What we would also like to say to family friends and neighbours, is that there will be older people in the community who aren’t going to see anyone.

"There is a big difference from saying 'I'm here if you need me' to proactively getting in touch with someone.

"Certainly, when we have been delivering our Christmas goodie bags, we've seen it has brightened so many people's day."

Age UK Sutton says that they have seen a doubling in demand for support since the start of the pandemic.

"We are currently helping twice as many people as we usually would be, and that’s been consistent since March - with only a few more staff," said Nicola.

"We’ve also taken on over 50 short term volunteers in the summer, of whom 20 have stayed longer term.

"Earlier on in the pandemic, we were very worried about people getting food and being able to access medical supplies.

Your Local Guardian:

Age UK Sutton has helped over 3000 people during the pandemic 

"But because of the efforts of Age UK Sutton, other charities, Sutton Council and the NHS, it has been managed.

She added: "It’s been really hard and stressful but also incredibly rewarding for our staff and volunteers.

"We’ve completely changed the way we have delivered our services, but all of our services are still running.

"And It’s really uplifting to see the community constantly rally around and respond to charities like us that ask for help."

Speaking about Age UK Sutton's plans for 2021, Nicola added: "It's our 30th year in 2021 and we had all of these plans to celebrate.

"But actually, our 30th year is going to be spent doing what we are here for, which is supporting people who are having a really hard time.

"Doing everything that we can to keep older people safe, and mentally well during something that none of us anticipated that we were going to face. "

Your Local Guardian:

Age UK Sutton will be delivering 150 goodie bags to those in need this week.

They have collected 800 cards to deliver to their clients from members of the public and have launched a fundraiser to continue support in 2021.

To see their Christmas campaign visit here.

For advice and guidance on what to do for Christmas visit Age UK here.