Community spirit the key to ending this tragedy
Caroline Billington believes that no elderly person in the UK should be on their own on Christmas Day unless they want to be. This might sound like a simple and obvious statement? She would agree. However, research conducted by the WRVS suggested that just under a quarter of a million older people spent Christmas alone last year. This is a shocking statistic and one which highlights how many members of our communities have become invisible and how we need to come together to ensure things are different in the future.
Saddened and angered by the knowledge that so many people spend Christmas alone Caroline has successfully run a number of Community Christmas lunches for the elderly over the past two years. Determined to make a real difference to many more people Community Christmas has decided to launch itself on a national basis. The campaign to achieve this begins on 25 June, 6 months before Christmas. Community Christmas is asking people to sign an online petition to show their support for this vision and help the campaign gather momentum.
Caroline said: “Everyone I speak to about this campaign agrees that it seems inconceivable that so many elderly and often vulnerable people are spending Christmas alone. Yet there are lonely people in every street in every town and village across the UK.”
Community Christmas will become the go-to place where anyone concerned about an elderly person needing company on Christmas Day can find out about events in their area. The events publicised will be a combination of Community Christmas events and those run by other organisations. Community Christmas recognises that in order to achieve the vision they will need to work in partnership with as many other organisations as possible.
Similarly Community Christmas will be a resource for those wishing to run their own event or donate some of their time or money to ensuring those events are possible. By putting the people who make it happen together with those who desperately need this resource we can make a real change.
Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (England & Wales) who supports Community Christmas said: “Community Christmas is a valuable contribution to community cohesion.”
In order to fully realise the opportunities for Christmas 2013 Community Christmas is seeking a series of Founding Partners. Caroline said: “By identifying Founding Partners we will be able to build the infrastructure and momentum necessary to make a real change as early as Christmas 2013. There is no time to wait. Things need to change now.”
Despite the name Community Christmas is about more than just Christmas Day. That is just the beginning.
Caroline explains: “Christmas is our initial focus because as part of our extensive research we identified that many of the organisations who work tirelessly with elderly people throughout the year often take a well-deserved break at Christmas. We want to fill the gap that is created and become the resource they can rely on at Christmas time. Christmas becomes the opportunity for the elderly who need our support to engage with us. We then use this opportunity to identify their other health and well-being needs putting them in touch with other organisations who can provide support and companionship. Christmas is just the start of our legacy.”
For more information about Community Christmas and how you can get involved contact 0844 854 9251 or visit www.communitychristmas.org.uk