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Christmas Presence

Published on 23 December 2020 01:43 PM

In the run up to Christmas we have been busy spreading some festive cheer to older people around Rotherham thanks to some kind hearted support from Mears Group, Rotherham College and a group of talented youngsters and their mums in Swallownest.

For the last few years we have worked with Rotherham Mears Group to host a Christmas lunch and carol service for around 100 older people. This year, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that our usual plans had to be put on hold. Despite this, our friends at Mears still wanted to do something special and instead offered to donate and deliver 150 gifts to older people in Rotherham.

This generous offer provided the perfect opportunity for us to work with Mears again this Christmas and to let older people know that someone is thinking about them. In addition to the gift from Mears, each person was presented with an Age UK Rotherham Christmas goody bag containing tea and biscuits, chocolates, a Christmas craft activity, Age UK information leaflets and a Christmas card.

Some lucky recipients also received a handmade Christmas card from one of several young artists who, together, created around 40 different cards. Rebecca Bramley’s son Ryan is one of the young card makers. Rebecca said, ‘I was talking to Ryan about how lucky we were to have each other and how some people are on their own at Christmas, especially older people and especially at these times of “the world being poorly”, as Ryan says. I said to him it would be nice to make something to bring a smile to the faces of a few people who were on their own and hopefully brighten things a little for them if we could. So, we decided on Christmas cards and Ryan asked if we could get his friends involved too and the parents all thought it was a lovely idea.’

For two days earlier in December, Iain Cloke, EngAge Rotherham Development Officer, joined Mears staff Diane and Mick to help deliver the gift bags to older people all around Rotherham. Iain said, ‘There have been some lovely reactions from people who were delighted to receive the gifts. Conversations on the doorstep reflected people’s struggles with isolation and it felt people were bursting for a good chat.’

Diane Keay, Group Customer Success Manager with Mears, added, ‘It was clear from our deliveries that older people are missing interacting with others, rather than material things. The face to face contact they would normally have with their social groups and a good old chat is what they crave most.’

Community minded catering and hospitality students at Rotherham College also looking to add some festive cheer created treat boxes packed with festive bakes such as mince pies, Christmas pudding and chutney.  

The boxes were delivered to people who are isolated and receive help at home from Age UK Rotherham’s Care and Support Services. Age UK Rotherham Chief Executive Officer, Lesley Dabell said, ‘The gifts are a great way to let people know that they’re part of a community that cares about them.’

Lesley continued, ‘It’s wonderful to see people thinking about others and wanting to do something for older people who may be lonely or isolated from their families and friends, especially at this time of year. 2020 has been tough but by working together, being creative and working differently we’ve managed to bring a little joy and a few smiles this Christmas. Thank you to everyone involved in making it happen.’