10 million (41%) over 50s across Britain have lost confidence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven million (30%) fear catching the virus and feel safer at home.

Research* by Royal Voluntary Service, the national volunteering charity, and long-time supporter Yakult, identified that almost three in ten (29%) over 50s had been unable to do any of the things they used to enjoy, and felt less confident to shop (50%), visit friends (37%), eat out (58%) and use public transport (59%). One in five (20%) expected it to be at least six months before they felt ready to return to their daily way of life. More than half of respondents (52%) said they miss the freedom to do as they please and 35% miss their old life.

Daily worries about the pandemic affected six in ten respondents, with many (18%) feeling anxious a lot of the time.

Feeling the COVID-19 confidence crisis keenly, the study shows, are people living alone. Nearly three in ten (28%) respondents living alone said they have spent too long on their own and one in five (23%) said they felt lonely and isolated – more than double the figure for those living with others.

Vital to improving the confidence of respondents was the development of a vaccine (76%), falling mortality rates (50%) and the widespread provision and wearing of masks and gloves (37%).

The research was released to accompany a new film highlighting the vital work Royal Voluntary Service is doing to support the most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis. The charity is appealing for donations to support this work.

"With life still on hold for so many, people’s mental and physical wellbeing are suffering. Royal Voluntary Service is working in communities to reach those at risk, providing services that really matter, that build confidence and resilience, and that ensure social interaction, either virtually or in person. We deliver emergency food packs, essential groceries and prescriptions, make companionship calls, drive people to urgent medical appointments and settle patients back home after a stay in hospital. Our online activity programme, the Virtual Village Hall, is also helping people keep active and interested. Our services have never been in such high demand and we would be profoundly grateful for donations so that we can support even more people that need us."

Sam Ward, Director of Services and Deputy Chief Executive at Royal Voluntary Service.

"It is an honour to work alongside Royal Voluntary Service and support their efforts during these unprecedented times. They provide key services among some of the most vulnerable in our communities, who could be our own relatives, friends and neighbours, complementing the NHS and bringing rays of hope and joy to their clients, when we cannot. As long-term partners we are always proud to get behind their cause and encourage everyone to do so too."

Hiroaki Yoshimura, Managing Director of Yakult UK and Ireland.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives, knocking people’s confidence and leaving many struggling to cope. Royal Voluntary Service has been a vital lifeline for so many vulnerable people throughout this crisis, and its work is far from over. A donation to support its work would be hugely appreciated."

Actor and Royal Voluntary Service supporter Dame Penelope Wilton DBE.

"I knew all about coronavirus, but I didn’t expect to catch it myself. When I got back from hospital, I was so exhausted, I was all alone and isolation was really starting to take its toll. Life was very difficult so Royal Voluntary Service organised for Alex, a young volunteer, to call me regularly to check how I was doing. We hit it off straight away and she’s made such a difference to my life, she’s really kept me going. I’m well enough now for Alex to visit me, at a distance of course, so now we can chat in person. I really enjoy that."

Royal Voluntary Service client Derek, who features in the new video.

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with volunteers supporting thousands of people each month in hospitals and in the community. The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals.

To make a donation to support the charity’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit


For further information

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

If you are a member of the press and have a media enquiry please contact the Media Team. For all other enquiries, contact us.