Tackling Isolation and Loneliness with Age UK Westminster’s Christmas Project
Published on 06 January 2022 02:39 PM
For most of us, Christmas time is an opportunity to celebrate with our family and friends but for many older Londoners, this is sadly not the case, especially in light of recent restrictions. New analysis by Age UK has found that 198,000 older people in London can go for a month without meeting up with a friend, and that 19,000 over 65s in the region have not even had a conversation with family or friends over the same period.
Age UK Westminster’s Christmas Project is a yearly project to make Christmas Day a special and enjoyable time for elderly residents, who may be suffering from loneliness and isolation, which has become even more pronounced during the pandemic. This is a fantastic project we have been delivering to older Westminster residents for over 10 years.
Working with amazing supporters from different organisations and retail, Age UK Westminster have been able to provide those who are most vulnerable with a special Christmas hamper, delivered by volunteers. The hampers contained: a bone china mug, a jewellery tray, soap, a puzzle book, a Christmas card, box of mince pies, shortbread, jam/marmalade, teabags, cream crackers, Christmas pudding and chocolates. This was made possible by contributions from the following corporate sponsors: Halcyon Days, Waitrose and Southbank International School.
We have also provided festive activities, such as afternoon teas, a wreath making workshop, an online choir performance and a Christmas quiz/bingo, made possible by our amazing corporate sponsors, Bain & Co, Southbank International School and Newton Europe. Additionally, our brilliant volunteers called some of our most vulnerable residents on the run up to Christmas and on Christmas day, to ensure they didn’t feel forgotten or lonely.
Although loneliness is by no means an inevitable part of ageing, difficult life events that many experiences as people get older, such as bereavement, serious illness or reducing mobility, can all be triggers for becoming more isolated and feeling lonelier. Christmas is a time when many people come together, though in these challenging times, this may be more emphasised than ever.
Local councillors were also involved with packing and delivering hampers to residents, including Cllr Robert Rigby, Cllr Tim Mitchell, Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Cllr Paul Dimoldenburg, and MP Nickie Aiken. Moreover, local businesses and institutions stepped up to help with the whole process, from unloading to deliveries, including The Crown Estate, Howard de Walden Estate, GIC Singapore, the Department for Transport, Richardson Publishing, Wearisma, Wetherby Senior School, Newton Europe, NSL Services, ISG Ltd, Marston Holdings, Wetherby Senior School, Pubmatic and Quod.
One volunteer, Frankie, from local company PubMatic, who has helped with iTea Parties and hamper deliveries, commented that, “All of the older people have been so happy to receive their hampers… It’s nice for these people to have someone knock at their door.”
The residents who have received hampers this year have been incredibly appreciative of the hampers, commenting:
“Very kind and generous, it made my day. Thank you for all you do for me.”
“Thank you for the hamper - much appreciated and needed.”
“Big thanks to you all, with a lump in my throat I'm very grateful for the hamper. Thinking of you all and praying for you. Thank you for taking care of me and thinking of me and for the lovely food. I will enjoy over Christmas.”
Local MP, Nickie Aiken said: “Loneliness is an issue all through the year, but particularly at Christmas when a lot of people are thinking about spending time with their families and friends. Therefore, particularly at this time of year, having a project like this is so important, particularly now for those who may be self-isolating. I would like to thank Age UK, Westminster in particular, because you are brilliant. Day in, day out, throughout the year, you are there for old people, whatever their needs, and I want to thank anyone who has volunteered this year. If there’s anyone in the area who is over 50, don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone.”
Fiona Healy Connelly, Chair at Age UK Westminster added: “Here in Westminster we try and find local solutions to local problems, so we work very hard on our relationships with local businesses and trusts. We want to encourage a collective duty to our older residents, and we are grateful that many trusts, large corporations and small businesses feel the same. In the last couple of years, the organisation has started to expand again and the team has grown and continues to grow, responding to the needs of our local residents.”
If you’d like to volunteer, please click here:
We are also still accepting donations for our Christmas project via JustGiving click here: