Ending Loneliness campaign update: "When things are quite fragmented in life, giving people a purpose and a reason to get together in our communities is hugely important"

Little ones from Oatlands Pre-School who entertained at Oatlands Community Groups Mince Pies and Memories event, with organisers and attendees.
Little ones from Oatlands Pre-School who entertained at Oatlands Community Groups Mince Pies and Memories event, with organisers and attendees.

The Harrogate Advertiser’s Ending Loneliness campaign has a very festive feel to it this week, as readers from across the district have answered our call to action to organise a ‘Mince Pies and Memories’ event to raise money for Dementia Forward and beat loneliness in the process.

Dementia Forward’s Mince Pies and Memories campaign is an open invitation for anybody to get together with friends, family, neighbours or colleagues to share a memory over a mince pie and donate £1 to the charity.

Oatlands Community Group held an event on Monday at their local community centre after a lady who had seen the Advertiser’s feature about mince pies and memories approached them to suggest that they host their own.

Festive entertainment was provided by children at Oatlands Pre-School, who serenaded attendees with a selection of Christmas carols.

The group raised £172 by inviting people to decorate their very own Christmas ‘CommuniTREE’ with memories written on baubles, and for those who did, the event was also an invaluable social experience.

Organiser and member of Oatlands Community Group Victoria Smith-Dunn, said: “One gentleman told us that the event had really made his day, and he said that he really felt like we had started Christmas for him. The atmosphere was so sweet.

“I think having something like this is really important because it gives people an opportunity to get out, and it gives them a purpose to it as well, to leave the house.

“The way life is going these days, people are often at different ends of the country, and life can be so chaotic and busy. When things are quite fragmented, giving people a purpose and a reason to get together in our communities is hugely important.

“People can be very isolated and so to have a point of social contact is vital.

“I think mince pies and memories is a great way to end loneliness because memories are a real conversation point for people, and we all have memories. They are something that we all have in common, especially Christmas memories. Everyone has memories of Christmas that they would like to share.

“It was nice to see at our event the differences between older people and younger people’s memories as well, and watching them share their memories with each other. It was interesting to hear the differences in what Christmas means to different people.

“I would encourage other communities to get involved because actually it didn’t take much organising at all, but it has made such a big difference to the people who came along.”

Other supporters who have come forward to support Mince Pies and Memories include: Park Parade surgery in Harrogate, the Pavilions Show Ground, Dower House in Knaresborough, and a member of the Hampsthwaite Women’s Institute.

Any readers interested in sharing a memory over a mince pie can email: info@dementiaforward.org.uk or call Netty Newell, on: 01765 645904.

Good Deed-cember

MHA, a charity providing care, accommodation and support services for older people, has launched ‘Good Deed-cember’, a campaign to tackle loneliness and social isolation in our communities.

The charity is inviting people to remember older neighbours, friends and relatives this Christmas and deliver a good deed. Good deeds can include anything from addressing Christmas card envelopes, helping out with shopping, wrapping presents, to baking a cake or inviting someone for Christmas lunch.

Readers who are interested in taking part in Good Deed-cember can share what they have done, to encourage others to do the same, by using the hashtag #GoodDeedcember across their social media channels.

A call to action

The Harrogate Advertiser would like to invite readers to take part in Good Deed-cember to make a difference this Christmas.

It is often the smallest of ideas or gestures that can really have an impact and make someone’s day, and we would love to hear your good deeds.

Email: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk or call 01423 707505. We would also like to encourage readers to support Dementia Forward’s Mince Pies and Memories campaign.

Are you organising an event? Get in touch to share what you are doing!

Appeal

Wesley Chapel is looking for volunteer drivers for its annual Christmas Day lunch, to transport attendees who might otherwise be on their own at Christmas to and from the Chapel.

If you are able to help, contact Philip Goodwin on: 01423 563990 or email: gpgoodwin39@gmail.com.

Reader Anthony Lee has organised a free Christmas Day lunch at the Green Hut on Harlow Hill for anyone in the district who might otherwise be on their own this Christmas. Transport can be provided, pick-up at 1pm.

Contact Anthony Lee on 07710179717 or Fiona Clements: 07496 019347.

A new appeal and your response to our calls to action

Looking forward to the new year, the Harrogate Advertiser would like to hear from charities, organisations and individuals who are working tirelessly to end loneliness among young people.

Email me at: finola.fitzpatrick@jpress.co.uk or call 01423 707505 to share what you are doing; or if you have an idea of how to help young people, I would also love to hear from you.

In last week’s Ending Loneliness campaign feature, which focused on the support provided by Age UK North Yorkshire, the Harrogate Advertiser invited readers to volunteer for the charity’s telephone befriending service and home secretary service. We are thrilled to report that a potential volunteer has already come forward for the telephone befriending service.

The Harrogate Advertiser invited readers to share what they are doing to end loneliness in our community.

Reader Jenny Goodwin writes: “This is just to let your readers know that on Thursdays, at 12 noon, Wesley Chapel serves a three-course lunch, costing £3 in the Lower Hall. The project, known as Forward Together, has been in operation for over 30 years, and it is particularly aimed at people who are on their own, and value meeting together for a meal and companionship. We have a short break after our Christmas lunch, but we will re-convene on Thursday, January 5.”

Victoria Smith-Dunn writes: “We are working on setting up a knitting club in Oatlands and we would like to reach out into the community to find some knitters that would be happy to share their skills with the younger generations for a good cause. We would like to set up in January and hopefully give residents a reason to meet over a common interest within our community. Older generations have very valuable skills to share with younger generations, and in the winter months having a reason to meet up with people and share skills could help to alleviate loneliness, offer another solution to preventing social isolation, and provide a great opportunity for socialising across generations within our community.” Contact vic@smith-dunn.co.uk if interested."