Kent-based community organisation, Swale Community and Voluntary Services has been awarded £1,500 funding from Kent Community Foundation to provide small Christmas gatherings and hampers for elderly people in Swale. 

How a Community Organisation is Keeping the Elderly Company this Christmas

‘Companionship at Christmas’ is an initiative designed to provide support over the festive period for older people in Swale who are lonely, socially isolated, lacking mobility or have a disability. Bringing festive cheer and a kindly gifted Christmas hamper will be particularly thoughtful this holiday season given the rise of loneliness during the pandemic. 

In the run up to the holiday season, volunteers are organising Christmas-themed get-togethers for small groups to ensure older members of the community have face-to-face contact over the festive period. 

Swale Community and Voluntary Services will also provide a Christmas hamper which will be delivered by a ‘Companionship at Christmas’ volunteer who will spend some time chatting on the doorstep. This initiative is an invaluable service for one of the most disadvantaged groups who would otherwise spend Christmas alone. 

In the past, ‘Companionship at Christmas’ provided hot festive meals on both Christmas Day and Boxing day for around eighty vulnerable people. At Phoenix House, a local community centre, guests are welcomed to quizzes, carol singing, Christmas dinner and most important of all, companionship. However, due to continued uncertainty around the pandemic, the community group has decided to adapt their plans for 2021. The whole two days are run entirely by volunteers – some of which have been volunteering for over twenty-five years. 

Louise Johnson, Swale Community and Voluntary Services, said, “Within the Swale area there are many people, particularly the elderly, who are socially isolated. Christmas is a difficult time of year for those who are alone and whilst we cannot provide our normal meal, we hope the Christmas meet-ups throughout December and the delivery of a hamper and ‘chat’ on the doorstep, will give everyone a feeling of coming together and not being forgotten.”

How a Community Organisation is Keeping the Elderly Company this Christmas

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said, “Companionship at Christmas is a really important and valuable service for older people living in Swale and is just the type of community project that the money raised from our annual Surviving Winter campaign will support.”

The community organisation prides itself in enabling effective volunteering services for local people helping them tackle disadvantage and lead fulfilling lives. Other services provided include a Volunteer Car Scheme; transporting the elderly, disabled and infirm to their essential appointments.

Swale Community and Voluntary Services is a membership body for the local voluntary and community sector in Swale. Over 40 years the SCVS has grown into a robust, successful and well respected organisation, helping and enabling communities to thrive and flourish.

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Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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