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Creating community at Christmas

A scene from Channel 4's Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds

Published on 04 December 2018 11:37 AM

A group of Shropshire mothers and toddlers are hosting a Christmas party to bring together old and young at a time of year that for many holds joy, but can also be one of the loneliest.

Almost a million older people say they feel lonelier at Christmas (based on research by Age UK), and half a million older people can go up to a week without seeing or speaking to anyone. Channel 4’s intergenerational experiment, ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’ has shown how bringing together a group of retirement community residents and preschool children positively transformed the lives of all the participants, including the children’s parents.

Annie Hambley, event organiser and parent said: ‘It was a really emotional, enlightening and beautiful programme and has inspired me to put together this party and hopefully the foundations of a similar intergenerational projects for the young and old in our community to get to know each other, share interests, talents and activities, play and learn and most importantly spend some lovely time together with the hope that they will continue to keep in regular contact through visits, phone calls and letters.’

‘Christmas is such a special time of year for so many, especially children who see nothing more than the magic of it all, I wanted to share some of that magic and joy with people that for one reason or another may be feeling sad or lonely. I know personally having lost my dad last year that there is nothing like a child’s laugh or smile to help bring a glimmer of happiness back and I am so grateful to Palmers, Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin, and all the wonderful people in our community which are helping make this wonderful party possible and I would like to invite the old and the young to come along and enjoy some traditional festive cheer and a mince pie or two!’

Judy James, Central manager and community liaisons from Palmers said: ‘We are thrilled to be part of this event and to support Annie in this new venture. Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin use our Central building at various points during the week; we also have baby and toddlers groups, so what better than to bring everyone together at this special time of year. There are proven statistics to see how occasions such as this will benefit the mental health of older generations whilst also providing role models and support to parents and their children. A win-win in our book.’

The free community Christmas event on Monday 10 December at 10.30am is kindly being hosted at Palmers Café, part of Central, Shrewsbury Baptist Church, and will bring together the older people in the county with some of the youngest and their parents to share some festive fun, food, games, music, dancing and above all companionship. Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin is supporting the event, as are numerous local people and businesses who have made kind and generous donations of food, drink, decorations and gifts.

For further information on the event, or to donate please call Annie Hambley 07462 792 822 or Sarah Pierpoint from Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on 01743 233 788.

Further information