FOR MANY people, Christmas is a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones, sharing laughs, gifts and good food.
But with an estimated 35 per cent of older people affected by loneliness in the West Midlands, the festive season may not be this merry for some older residents.
National charity Friends of the Elderly is the official partner of Community Christmas and is encouraging people in the West Midlands to ‘Be a Friend’ by organising local activities so no older person will be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be.
There are lots of activities happening across the UK that are already listed on the Community Christmas website, including seven in the West Midlands – but more are needed.
If you would like to hold a Christmas Day activity there is still time to get involved.
There are plenty of activities that can be organised in a short space of time that really will be the best gift you can give to older people in your community facing Christmas Day alone.
A Christmas Day activity can be whatever you think people in your community might enjoy – You could organise a Christmas lunch at your local community centre, a Christmas film screening in your village hall, or a Christmas walk around your local park – whatever you do will make someone’s Christmas Day one to remember.
If you’re already organising an activity on Christmas Day, or know of something already happening in your area, then make sure you contact Community Christmas so it can be listed on the website making it easier for older people to know what’s happening in the West Midlands.
Community Christmas receives hundreds of calls each year from, and on behalf of, older people who are facing Christmas Day alone.
With a well populated map of activities taking place on the day, the team at Community Christmas can help find them somewhere locally they can spend time with others and form lasting relationships.
Steve Allen, Chief Executive at Friends of the Elderly, said: “We know that loneliness has a devastating impact on older people’s lives and that Christmas Day – traditionally a time for family – can be an especially difficult time for those with no family and friends around. With the kindness and dedication of activity organisers, more and more older people will have somewhere they can go on Christmas Day to enjoy the company of others.
“Together we can make this Christmas one to remember for thousands of older people across the country.”
Caroline Billington, Founder of Community Christmas, added: “It is so fantastic when we get a call from an older person and are able to find a place where they will be welcomed on Christmas Day – whether it is a care home opening their doors, tea and cake in a community hall, or a trip to the local pub.
“Not only does this mean these older people have somewhere to go on Christmas Day but quite often we hear of them forming friendships to last them the whole year through, which is what is it all about.”
For more information visit: www.fote.org.uk/Christmas.