“Thinking of you at Christmas” campaign tackles loneliness

Local charity Time to Talk Befriending has launched an outreach program with local youth groups and church groups to connect with the older people in local communities who spend periods of time alone.

The new campaign, “Thinking of you at Christmas” will provide hampers and hand-crafted cards with personalised messages to hundreds of older people in areas of the city such as Woodingdean, which have been identified as important neighbourhoods in the fight against loneliness.

Time to Talk Befriending focuses on the understanding that Christmas for many older people can be emotive – a time of reflection when feelings of loneliness and loss come to the fore. The local charity work across Brighton and Hove helping older people who say they feel “lonely, invisible and forgotten” to “feel like I am living again” through intergenerational befriending and community outreach activities. Thousands of older people in the UK spend Christmas day alone so every year the charity and supporting groups provide something special for the elders living in local communities through the seasonal campaign

The charity want to inspire and encourage other people to reach out to the elders in their local communities and get engaged with activities for the campaign. Last week they ran hamper packing evening in partnership with Waitrose Hove and this week they’re holding a Woodingdean community outreach activity at the Deans Youth Centre on Tuesday 22nd December 2015 between 11.30am – 4.00pm.

A member of staff volunteering at the hamper packing activity in Waitrose Hove
A member of staff volunteering at the hamper packing activity in Waitrose Hove

This year the Brighton Vineyard Church youth group have purchased the
hamper items for the “Thinking of you at Christmas” campaign. The youth
group have also made hand-crafted cards with a personal message confirming
that our elderly scheme members are being thought about and remembered.

In 2014 the Brighton Vineyard Church provided personalised hampers to the charity’s
scheme members who said;
“I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the hamper you gave me. As a result of
treatment I am receiving for cancer I was too unwell to go to the shops over
Christmas. I also had no one to help me so thank you very much for your
kindness. The food genuinely was a life-line.

“I was dreading Christmas after losing my husband…I didn’t want to be on my
own so it meant a lot to me to know that I was being thought about…thank
you”.

St Mary’s Anglican Church in Brighton are also purchasing and delivering 10
hampers for Time to Talk Befriending scheme members living in the East of the City.
In addition to the scheme member hampers, Time to Talk Befriending has
received funding from the Goodnews Evangelical Mission and Holland Road
Baptist Church to provide hampers to over 100 older people living in the
Woodingdean area of the City. The beneficiaries of the Woodingdean outreach
have been identified through discussions between partnering agencies.

IMG_1733The hampers will enable the charity to introduce the Time to Talk Befriending service which collaborative partners have identified as important because;

Woodingdean has one of the largest proportions of older people in wards
across the City of Brighton and Hove and a high number of elderly residents
have long term health conditions. There is also a substantial amount of
evidence to confirm that elderly people are more at risk of feeling lonely and
isolated which is why these groups are working together with collaborative agencies to
tackle this issue in partnership together.

A personalised message from an Aldrington School student
A personalised message from an Aldrington School student

Furthermore, Time to Talk Befriending are raising awareness about the damaging effects of loneliness among children and young people through the “Thinking of you at
Christmas” campaign. Personalised hand-crafted cards are included within all
the hampers distributed to our scheme members and older people living in
Woodingdean. The cards have been made by children and young people from
Aldrington Primary School, Brunswick Primary School, Blatchington Mill and
Hove Park School – all of whom wanted to make a difference to show an
elderly person that they are being thought about and that they are not
forgotten.