Loneliness is on the rise in Ireland both in young and older people, the head of Alone has said.
The charity that supports older people interacted with the largest number of people in its history last year.
Some 22,300 older people were supported by Alone in 2022.
There are over 165,000 older people living in poverty today in Ireland.
Alone CEO Seán Moynihan told Breakfast Briefing the charity met the needs of over 85% of people.
"There are three main themes: financial support, housing and then loneliness," he said.
"We're very grateful to all the work of our staff and volunteers, but also all the other agencies and Government departments we work with.
"For those people who came to us, over 22,000 people, over 85% of what they came to us for we actually met their needs.
"Whether it was housing, transport, food, oe whether it was access to support around loneliness."
'A link to social activity'
Mr Moynihan said thousands of volunteers speak to people on a daily basis.
"Loneliness obviously is hugely on the rise, both in young people and in older people," he said.
"We're trying to both respond to the level of loneliness, while also look for the policies and practices needed in the State to combat it.
"We'd over 4,000 active volunteers last year, and some of them making calls weekly, daily to older people to support them to age at home.
"In other cases, we've people visiting older people once or twice a week to provide them with a social support, a link to social activity, practical support."
Mr Moynihan said the service also provides "the emotional support that people need when they're lonely, which really damages both their physical and their mental health".
'Still working and active'
Mr Moynihan said thousands of older people are still working and active.
"There's 150,000 older people who are carers to grandchildren, there's another 50/60,000 that are carers," he said.
"There's 20% of all volunteers [who] are older people, and thousands who are still working and active.
Mr Moynihan said housing is also something their members need help with.
"We're a bellwether probably for those in need of housing, support, access to health and loneliness and other support issues - for that group that maybe isn't doing quite as well," he said.
"Thousands of people come to us who can't maintain the house, if they own a house, or who are in insecure housing... or in situations that the house they have no longer fits their need.
"60% of the people that come to us for that actually have a deficit in trying to access their bathrooms."
'Need is on the rise'
Mr Moynihan said he would welcome an increase in the pension and a lump sum Fuel Allowance payment in the upcoming budget.
"We've an ageing population, the need is on the rise," he said.
"We feel it first on the ground; usually from what we feel - whether it's housing, finance, loneliness - policy change and investment needs to follow.
"In the Programme for Government there's a promotion to benchmark the pension, and we really support that.
"What it would actually do is take away this uncertainty every year," he added.