#ChristmasTogether is the festive new TV advertising campaign from Waitrose. Unusually, the star of the advert is not the delicious-looking food, but rather the comradeship between people of all ages who are unexpectedly snowed-in at a remote pub somewhere in the UK.
Despite their predicament, they come together and find happiness in creating and sharing a Christmas meal out of the contents of the pub’s kitchen cupboards. You feel that whilst watching it, you can’t help but want to be one of the party.
Thankfully this very act, of strangers coming together and eating together, does in fact happen every Christmas Day across the country. Older people, who would otherwise be spending Christmas Day by themselves, are invited to events arranged by a variety of community groups and dedicated volunteers.
However, a huge challenge is informing older people that these events are happening at all. With an overwhelming number of older people expected to spend Christmas Day by themselves this year, up to half a million, many people assume that the ‘authorities’ will be intervening and helping them. Unfortunately, in general, this is just not the case.
You probably know that social services and community care is under immense strain nationally, and so providing older people with basic practical care is prioritised. Therefore, social needs fall further and further down the list, even though many working in social care wish they had longer to spend chatting with the people they look after.
Community Christmas was set up to address this very issue, but we need your help. Our website lists Christmas Day events for older people to attend in their local area, as well as make it easy for either the older people themselves, or their friends, family or neighbours, to search for these events. Do you know an older person living alone? Do you see an older person regularly who appears to be alone living in your community? Do you know their situation?
This Christmas we would like to ask you to give the gift of neighbourliness to an older person living near you. But, how do you do this, especially if you’re afraid of leaving your comfort zone or being told to go away?
Well, start with a smile and by saying hello. Introduce yourself, ask their name. Can you ask them if they need anything, ask them if they have plans this Christmas? If they don’t, perhaps you can tell them about the work we do at Community Christmas and offer to search the website and arrange to give them the details of any events nearby?
Perhaps they do have plans for Christmas after all, or perhaps they want to be alone and don’t seem to want to talk to you. I’m sure your interaction on some level will be appreciated anyway. Maybe though, your conversation will give them not only an event to attend on Christmas Day, but a social lifeline for the year to come.
By enabling lonely older people to attend an event at Christmas, you can help tackle social isolation all year round. At a Christmas Day event they have the chance to meet people of a similar generation to them and find out what’s on in their community throughout the year.
With your help, which does not cost a penny but instead a few minutes of your time, we can ensure that no one is alone at Christmas if they do not want to be. They too can have the chance to feel as warm, cosy and welcome as those depicted in the Waitrose advert whilst they spend Christmas together with people from their community.
We urge you to know that the very people that can stop social isolation at Christmas isn’t just social services, it isn’t the government and it isn’t just charities. In fact, it’s everyone. It’s you.