Determined volunteers, charity staff, and businesses worked together to give an estimated 11,000 older people across the UK somewhere to go on Christmas Day in 2016.
More than 600 activities were organised and registered with Community Christmas, giving thousands of older people who would otherwise have spent Christmas Day alone with the option of enjoying the festivities with people in their local community.
As well as people visiting the Community Christmas website to search for activities, the charity matched more than 140 older people, who contacted or were referred to them directly, with activities.
Tony Smith, 61, has attended a Christmas Day lunch in Kirkby-on-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire for two years. He said, “The lunch was initially a complete shock to the system – having spent all these years on my own. But it was like one big happy family. I am really looking forward to going each year.”
Community Christmas was founded by Caroline Billington in 2011 after she became aware of just how many older people are alone on Christmas Day, how little was being done about it and how contacts made can have an impact for the rest of the year.
Following the fantastic response in 2016, Caroline said, “We’re so grateful to everyone who organised an activity or volunteered on Christmas Day to support those like Tony who otherwise would have spent the day alone. An impressive number of events took place and hopefully connections were made within communities that will last through this year and beyond. However, unfortunately there were still thousands more older people who we were unable to reach, so if you’d like to get involved this Christmas, please do get in touch.”
Friends of the Elderly and Community Christmas are now encouraging people to start thinking about organising an activity for Christmas Day in 2017. For more information visit the Friends of the Elderly website or call 0800 063 9285.