Christmas and Community

christmas and community


The build up to Christmas for many, is just as enjoyable, if not more so than the main event itself. It is a happy time when we prepare to meet up with friends and family, attend special events and outings, perhaps go to see a Christmas panto and visit Father Christmas. At this time of year, we generally give ourselves permission to indulge more and be a little bit silly, which is all okay as we plan to refocus and ‘get back to normal’ sometime in the New Year.

On the flip side this happy and joyful time of year is often a lonely time, particularly for older people with those who have lost a loved one, struggling the most. Research by Age UK found that more than three million older people in the UK do not look forward to Christmas as it brings back too many memories of people who have passed away and of happier times. Although loneliness is by no means an inevitable part of ageing, difficult life events that many experience as people get older, such as bereavement, serious illness or reducing mobility, can all be triggers for becoming more isolated and feeling lonelier.

Their research also found that half a million older people across the UK are expected to feel lonely at Christmas and most have not sought any help for this. For them loneliness has become a ‘normal’ part of life. This more normal way of life has also been highlighted in other research to measure community spirit with more than half the people surveyed saying they wouldn't ask their neighbour for help with anything.

I’m sure most people would feel a little sad to think that a neighbour or family member would not reach out to us to ask for help or a visit if they needed to. The good news is we don’t need to wait to be asked, Christmas time is the perfect opportunity for us to reach out to them. We can make time for a mince pie, share information on local events such as Carol concerts, help with Christmas shopping, offer to post Christmas cards, help to put up the decorations, take a copy of the festive TV guide and together highlight which programmes to watch and listen to, the list goes on.

There are plenty of reasons to connect with those in our community and family this Christmas and we know that our efforts will be especially appreciated at this time of year.