OXFORDSHIRE residents will be among millions volunteering to ensure that no one spends Christmas alone this year.

The charity Royal Voluntary Service, which runs a community centre in Banbury as well as a social club in Botley and a help and support service to older people in their own homes, estimates that nine million people intend to volunteer this festive season.

The charity previously found almost 280,000 older people face spending Christmas Day alone.

With up to 50 million hours being donated to good causes in total, some 38 percent of people plan to volunteer on Christmas Day itself.

Helping older people is the most popular cause, with others identified including supporting children and young people, helping the homeless, working on mental health projects and aiding refugees and asylum seekers.

Among the army of volunteers will be Jan Cox, who will help out at a lunch for older people at the charity’s centre in Banbury.

The 69-year-old former secretary will be volunteering for the third year in a row.

She said “I really enjoy it and feel very happy there – it’s a proper old-fashioned Christmas.

“About 40 people came last year and we are expecting similar numbers this Christmas.

“Many of these older people would be on their own on Christmas Day if it wasn’t for the centre.

“As well as serving a delicious lunch, we also sing a lot of traditional Christmas songs, hand out presents and do a raffle.

“My role will be to help get everything set up, but I will also enjoy having chats with all the diners and will be spending most of the day there.

“Volunteering on Christmas Day is something I really love doing and it’s fantastic to see the happy faces on all who come.”

The charity also found that nearly one in 10 people are planning to invite their older neighbours to join their Christmas celebrations.

Steve Kilsby, the manager of the Royal Voluntary Service Oxfordshire Hub, said: “Volunteers keep us going all year round but so many get involved specifically at Christmas time.

“It always surprises me how many people will put themselves forward.

“It will be a very special day. Last year was absolutely fantastic.”

To find out more about the Royal Voluntary Service visit royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk