Harrogate charity spreads Christmas cheer among its clients

Opening Doors guests, Joan and Lester Martin, getting into the festive spirit
Opening Doors guests, Joan and Lester Martin, getting into the festive spirit
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Clients from local charitable project, Opening Doors, have been enjoying a series of Christmas social events.

Guests who are all older, vulnerable or living with disabilities, have attended the Nidderdale Messiah in Knaresborough, a carol concert at St Peter’s Church, the Harrogate Band’s Christmas concert and their annual Christmas Lunch at the Cedar Court Hotel.

A total of 70 guests were joined by the Mayor of Harrogate, Coun Anne Jones, and Deputy Mayor of Harrogate, Cllr Christine Willoughby, for their festive lunch. The diners were then entertained with a medley of traditional and modern songs from the Saltergate Junior School Choir. Guests were invited to join in with the songs and were presented with small gifts and a handmade Christmas card from the children.

Part of the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP), the Opening Doors project provides volunteer befrienders to accompany clients out and about locally and to group outings and events. The aim of the project is to provide social contact for people who may be experiencing difficulty leaving the home unassisted due to factors such as ill health, anxiety or lack of transport. In many cases, clients are matched with volunteers based on mutual interests and enjoy one another’s company while out and about.

Christine Turner, Service Co-Ordinator for HELP explained: “Around two thirds of our clients tell us they experience loneliness some or all of the time. The Christmas season can exacerbate these feelings of isolation. We are delighted that our dedicated volunteers are doing so much both now, and throughout the year, to help our clients stay connected with their local community.”

Due to unprecedented demand for its services, the charity is now calling for more people to volunteer with them. The charity points out that this is a very flexible volunteering opportunity, which can be fitted in people’s busy lives.

Christine Turner continued: “Unfortunately, there are more people living alone without family nearby, which can make people feel less connected with society. Our volunteers act as a social lifeline to our clients and play a vital role in helping to overcome social isolation locally. It’s the simple things, like taking someone to the cinema or having a chat over coffee, that are so appreciated by our clients. I would urge anyone who would like to make a real difference to local people to get in touch.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the service, or becoming a volunteer, can get in touch with Jen Sonley on 01423 813095 or help@harcvs.org.uk