A BURNLEY man has launched a campaign asking people to look out for their elderly relatives and neighbours.

Michael Helps, 34, was prompted to take action after his mother, who is 73, became ill with various problems including acute kidney failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Her family, including Michael, rallied round to help her, which he said made him realise that other elderly people may struggle without a support network in place. So he launched an awareness campaign, ‘ called Old And Proud, aimed at tackling loneliness among older folk.

He has written to several people, including the Prime Minister, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the Health Secretary to raise the issue of loneliness among the elderly, and make them aware of his campaign.

Mr Helps, a store detective, said: “My mum has had ill health over the last two or three years and if it wasn’t for her family being round to help her, it made me realise there are plenty of OAPs who don’t have that. She is a strong and very caring person. She is the inspiration behind the campaign.

“I say ‘OAP’ should stand for ‘old and proud’ instead of ‘old age pensioner’. It’s a positive thing.

“I’m pushing for awareness of the problem of loneliness within the world, but we’ve got to tackle the UK first.

“We’re trying to get people to check on elderly neighbours, family and friends.”

Mr Helps, who is married with three children, has donated his own time and money to the campaign, but is asking local businesses to support it, by offering services such as printing leaflets and posters.

As well as using posters to spread the word, he has launched a website www.oldandproud.co.uk/, and also has a twitter account @proud_old.

Elderly people who would like to be supported by the campaign, or businesses which want to get involved, can write to Old and Proud, Lodge House, Cow Lane, Burnley, BB11 1NW, or call 07407 122174.