Heartwarming story behind why Man Utd had pensioners as mascots against Watford

Manchester United took the unprecedented step of walking out with 11 locals aged between 61 to 87 as they looked to raise awareness of loneliness that affects the older generation.

The United players did so prior to their 3-0 win over Watford on Sunday afternoon with the club supporting Cadbury's "Donate Your Words" campaign.

It comes after research found that on a weekly basis people aged 65 or elder speak to three people or less during a week while more than 225,000 don't speak to anyone at all.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This is a fantastic campaign and partnership between Cadbury and Manchester United, shining a light on a very real problem in Greater Manchester and beyond.

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"Loneliness is much closer to home than many people realise, and any actions like these to raise its profile is a big step in the right direction. I wish all parties the very best of luck with their continuous efforts in this area, and more importantly I hope those Guests of Honour taking part have a very special day.”

The survey also found that small gestures made a huge difference to the lives of elderly people. Six million confessed that a few minutes of conversation went a long way and would increase their confidence in public.

“We’re proud to announce this partnership with Manchester United and to continue supporting Age UK with our ‘donate your words’ campaign," said Colin O’Toole, Associate Marketing Director at Cadbury.

"Loneliness is such a huge problem amongst the older generation, and we are encouraging Manchester United fans and the nation at large to engage with this cause by donating their words at every opportunity to lonely older people in their communities.

"We are also excited to be working with Manchester United in the future on further collaborations."

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