Case Studies

I had nothing else to do on Christmas Day and it ended up so much better than expected when I bumped into an old friend

FAQ’s

Please find below a list of popular questions that you might have – please click on the question to find the answer – if you still have questions do not hesitate to contact us

General

What does Community Christmas do? »

There are currently estimated to be between 250,000 and 500,000 older people who spend Christmas Day on their own. We believe that no elderly person in the UK should be alone on Christmas Day and we are moving towards this vision by:

  • Bringing together individuals and organisations to provide companionship in their communities on Christmas Day with the longer term benefits this also delivers to all
  • Providing Guidance Notes and phone support to those who want to set up new initiatives
  • Providing a ‘one stop shop’ web presence for all services available on Christmas Day so that they are easily found by the elderly, and those who care about them

Any service provided to the elderly on Christmas Day is primarily about providing companionship in a safe and comfortable environment – this can be done in different ways to suit the communities and individuals concerned.

Why Christmas Day? »

On Christmas Day neighbours have gone away, lunch clubs are taking a break, coffee shops and libraries are closed and public transport is, at best, minimal. The media builds up to the ‘big day’ when many are enjoying food and companionship with their friends and family while others feel more isolated than ever.

There is still a stigma associated with admitting to being lonely. On Christmas Day, when other options are limited, there is a chance to meet a specific social need, open doors and have conversations which may also offer the chance to identify longer term requirements that can be met by others during the year.

How does Community Christmas deliver its work? »

We are working with our partner Friends of the Elderly to spread awareness through traditional and social media as well as continuing to build relationships with organisations, identify opportunities and respond to enquiries.

Our website has been built over the past 4 years with the support of Web Squared. Another substantial upgrade took place in 2015 to reflect the wider range of services that communities are delivering.

Verbatim have generously provided a phone answering service that enables contact to be made with Community Christmas 24 hours a day even when our own people are not available.

The organisations we work with are active in our communities throughout the year and by working together we can make Christmas a time that everyone can look forward to.

Who should contact us? »

Anybody who wants to improve the lives of the elderly who feel isolated in our communities including:

Organisations that can

  • directly help us deliver our central service or provide sponsorship for this purpose
  • directly deliver services (food, entertainment, skilled volunteers, locations, transport) to one or more communities
  • create awareness amongst their contacts of the need for services/the services on offer

Individuals

  • who support our central purpose and can spread the word generally or work with us directly
  • available to establish new opportunities for companionship (lunches, tea dances, cups of tea etc)
  • with skills to offer to their local community on Christmas Day (chefs, drivers, entertainers)
  • willing to donate funds via our Just Giving page to help us extend our impact
  • who are, or are aware of, those in need of companionship and seeking support on Christmas Day.

What can I do to support the Community Christmas vision? »

Via our website

  • Please feel free to use our leaflet. It can be printed off by anyone and distributed anywhere to encourage others to come forward and to raise awareness generally
  • Contact forms are available for
    • those wishing to list their current activities so as to increase their reach
    • those wishing to have support whilst establishing new services
    • those knowing of an elderly person needing support with no local community initiative listed
    • general and media enquiries
  • Share the video and get people thinking about the challenge
  • Donate via a link to our JustGiving page. Whilst we are lucky to have the support of many volunteers we need to pay for some expenses and services. Greater resources will clearly mean larger impact.

Generally

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your elderly friend or neighbour what they are doing for Christmas. If they have no plans, but want to make them, you can see what is happening in their area or put them on our waiting list.
  • Arrange an event (perhaps a Santa run, or Christmas party) to raise awareness and funds
  • Follow us on Twitter or like our Facebook page
  • Contact us with new ideas

What will happen to any money I/we donate? »

Governance

Community Christmas is a Registered Charity governed by the Charity Commission. Our Trustees are keen to ensure that donors feel confident about how their money is used but in the meantime we are happy to provide information about income and expenditure on request.

Budget

In 2015/16 centrally we spent less than £20,000 on our phone answering services as well as essential website changes, PR and governance costs much of it funded by an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery fund which enabled us to be much proactive in responding to enquiries. We continue to operate on a shoestring but hope to have the resources to be able to unearth an event for an older person to go to which takes time but is clearly why we are here and much more rewarding and beneficial than simply saying we don’t know of anything and handing out a phone number. Our partner, Friends of the Elderly, provides much of our communications activity which we are looking to build on with more of our own social media involvement. We will continue to need funds to grow our activities to their full potential and are happy to provide further information if required.

Local activities

All communities are responsible for meeting the costs of the services they provide. Our Guidance Notes provide information on potential sources of funds. In the long term we hope to have a central pool for those communities where accessing funds is more challenging.

Volunteers – new initiatives

How do I know if something is already happening in my area? »

The postcode search facility on the Community Christmas website will tell you of services that we know of and that have agreed to be listed. Most events continue year on year but during the early autumn we will be ensuring our database and the website is up to date and adding many new opportunities.

We are constantly updating our knowledge of what is available and will include these on the website as they become validated.

If nothing is listed in your area then we will be able to tell you if we know of an unlisted event or of someone else thinking about setting something up.

Before starting something new you should check with your local Volunteer Centre for any initiatives they are aware of (they will have directed volunteers in the past).Local churches, assisted living/care homes with communal areas, pubs/hotels/restaurants and village halls are amongst those that might already be open on Christmas Day for their local community and could be approached direct..

Should you find there is already something in your area then:

  1. If it isn’t listed please put them in touch with us so that we can include it on our database for future enquiries and on our website if they wish it.
  2. Talk to them to see whether they believe additional people need support through a similar or different means – choice is good.
  3. Offer to volunteer with them!

What kind of initiative could I set up? »

A Christmas Day Lunch event – using a local hall, cooking fresh food, bring guests to the venue and even providing some entertainment. It might be a full cooked Christmas lunch or a cold buffet.

Use a community hall for some kind of activity such as a tea dance, board games, bingo, or film showing.

Gather together a group to visit a local pub, restaurant, or hotel group. The venue will be responsible for the cooking and entertainment but you may still need volunteer drivers and companions.

You could be a host family by inviting in or visiting an elderly neighbour known to you or a local group for lunch or just a cup of tea watching the Queens Speech.

Anything that can be enjoyed throughout the year can be enjoyed on Christmas Day and gives older people and their community a chance to get together… the only limit is your imagination.

What support can Community Christmas offer me if I want to organise something new? »

Community Christmas provides comprehensive Guidance Notes that are updated each year and aim to reflect the feedback we get and continuous learning that we gain. They help you choose what type of activity you might want to provide and understand what is involved.

Should you decide to go ahead then you can call or email us at any time to discuss any questions or raise any challenges as you start to put things in place.

As with all initiatives we are happy to list your service on the Community Christmas website to increase the opportunities of potential guests (and volunteers) finding out about what you are offering.

What is included in the Guidance Notes? »

The Guidance Notes are comprehensive and, at first glance, long. However, the index will help you find your way around and once you have decided what you want to do you will be able to ‘bin’ the bits that aren’t relevant.

As well as some ‘discussive’ sections sharing ethos, how to choose volunteers and considerations when communicating with the elderly there are also shopping lists (food and non food), and checklists (checking the venue, setting up on Christmas Eve).

The notes provide GUIDANCE to fast track your learning curve. You will inevitably end up adapting them to make the day look and feel how you want. It is also worth noting that they are not legally binding in any way – the responsibility rests with every individual to look after all the other individuals they come into contact with.

If you would like a copy of the Guidance Notes then please get in contact via our website.

How much time and commitment will it take? »

It will depend what you decide to do, for how many people, and how many you get to help you during the planning phase. Whatever you give/do will be of benefit. The more you give/do the greater the benefit.

In general there will be a burst of activity when you are making the decision and to get the basics in place. The first year will also be the most challenging as you make the necessary contacts. During the autumn you may need to do more publicity and fundraising, and December will be the major ‘push’ and detailed work.

Last but not least, allow some time after Christmas for any thank yous and putting an article in the local press to help with the following year. Then take a well earned rest.

How do I raise the money? »

There are plenty of suggestions within the Guidance Notes as to how to raise money once you have established a budget (there is guidance on how to do this too). It may not be as challenging as you fear as people/businesses are often generous at a time of goodwill, for a cause they can easily relate to albeit family budgets will be stretched at this time of year. Often it will be easier to ask for the things you need ie crackers, vegetables and so on, rather than the money to buy them – and of course this reduces the shopping task too!

Where will I find volunteers to help me? »

Our experience is that as you publicise your ‘event’ to ensure that those that would otherwise be alone come forward to join the party, you will naturally get enquiries from volunteers. Community Christmas also gets enquiries from volunteers looking to be matched to an event and if your event is listed then they will be able to contact you directly.

Volunteers – general

How do I volunteer to help on Christmas Day? »

The postcode search facility on the Community Christmas website will tell you of services that we know of and that have agreed to be listed. Most events continue year on year but during the early autumn we will be ensuring our database and the website is up to date. We are also constantly updating our knowledge of what is available and will include these on the website as they become validated.

If there is something in your area then the contact information will be shown.

If nothing is listed then you could check with your local Volunteer Centre. Local churches, assisted living/care homes with communal areas, pubs/hotels/restaurants and village halls are amongst those that might already be open on Christmas Day for their local community and could be approached direct.

If you find something in your area that isn’t listed please put them in touch with us so that we can include them on our database for future enquiries and on our website if they wish it.

Will I have to be DBS (CRB) checked? »

The exact procedures followed will vary for each location and the organiser of the service will be able to give you more information. If you want to be offered a full range of options as to the tasks that you do it is best to make contact as early as possible to allow processing if required.

What would I expect to do? »

Again the exact needs will depend on the location and services being provided.

Any service provided to the elderly on Christmas Day is primarily about providing companionship in a safe and comfortable environment. There is therefore always a need for those that are happy to sit, listen and share stories.

Often there will be a need for a qualified cook/chef and they may be happy to have unskilled general help in the kitchen, washing up or clearing tables.

Those who don’t want to be available all day may be able to volunteer as drivers at the beginning and/or end of the day. The venue may also need setting up in advance so Christmas Eve volunteers may be welcome. Entertainers can turn Christmas Day from a day to be dreaded into a truly memorable day.

What happens if I can’t make it after all? »

If you are taken ill then it is really important not to go along and share your bugs with the elderly. The organiser will obviously want to know and will have given you a contact number in case of such an eventuality but they will usually be experienced at dealing with this situation and have a back up plan.

The elderly or those concerned about them

How do I find out what is going on near me/the person I am concerned about? »

Listed

The postcode search facility on the Community Christmas website will tell you of services that we know of and that have agreed to be listed. Most events continue year on year but during the early autumn we will be ensuring our database and the website is up to date. We are also constantly updating our knowledge of what is available and will include these on the website as they become validated.

Not listed

If nothing is listed then you could check with your local Volunteer Centre. Local churches, assisted living/care homes with communal areas, pubs/hotels/restaurants and village halls are amongst those that might already be open on Christmas Day for their local community and could be approached direct.

If you find something in your area that isn’t listed please put them in touch with us so that we can include them on our database for future enquiries and on our website if they wish it.

Alternatively, if you haven’t managed to find something in your area then please contact Community Christmas so that we can tell you if we know of an unlisted event or of someone thinking about setting something up. We also maintain a waiting list so that if something comes to our attention in the future we will be able to let you know and do our best to track things down.

We are also pleased to be working with The SilverLine who will be happy to talk to anyone who is alone on Christmas Day. They can be contacted 24 hours a day throughout the year on 0800 4 70 80 90.

Are there any criteria for accessing events and services on Christmas Day? »

Each location and organiser will set their own criteria. Their contact information will be on our web site so you can ring and ask. We update/upgrade the website on a rolling basis.

How will I/they get to a lunch or activity? »

Many events will offer transport and this will be shown on the activity listing – the event organiser will be able to provide further details. If transport is not available and you don’t have access to an alternative they may be able to arrange someone to come and visit you.

Will it be expensive? »

Many events organised by local communities are free but may appreciate donations. Others may have a fixed or variable cost to pay. Details are included for each activity listed.

Will I/they know anyone? »

Many of the people at a community organised lunch will be regular attendees at other lunch clubs or coffee mornings or live in the same area as each other. This may mean they know each other or it may be the perfect way to have a chat and find out what goes on in the local community. The volunteers at the event, or hosting the lunch/table, will be looking forward to making you feel at home and help you make new friends if you want to.

If I/they attend this year do I have to go every year? »

Not at all. The activity is there for you when you want it. It may well be that your local family are visiting more distant relatives this year but will be around again next year.

Will I need to book? How far in advance? »

Most activities will need you to book and some will take calls right up to Christmas Eve – although the sooner a place is reserved the better. Our website listings, or helpline staff, will be able to tell you.

A word from our founder

Event postcode search

Text SNTA05 £5 to 70070 CHRISTMAS CAN CHANGE LIVES

Text SNTA05 £5 to 70070
CHRISTMAS CAN CHANGE LIVES
or click below

Donations welcome

stats

Half of all older people (over 5 million) say that the TV is their main company

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87% of older people want a traditional Christmas spent in company, to help contact us now on 0800 063 9285