Give the gift of friendship and help us reduce loneliness this Christmas
By Laura Blake, Development Director
I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas. I start to get excited in November and start making plans for how I’ll celebrate with friends and family. I start thinking about how I’ll decorate the house, what we’ll eat at Christmas dinner, the gifts we’ll give and the smiles on the faces of those we give them to.
But for many of our neighbours, Christmas – and the long, dark, cold winter – can be a particularly tough time. A time when feelings of loneliness can come to the surface. This can be amplified by the pressure for Christmas to be a magical time spent with loved ones.
One in six older people in Somerset often feel lonely. Many of our neighbours live alone, some without transport. For many people, winter has come to be a time of feeling isolated and experiencing poor mental health.
But loneliness affects everyone, whatever your age. It affects young people who may feel they have no one they can turn to in difficult times. It affects new parents, who may be struggling to cope with the demands of parenting or the effect that becoming a parent has on their identity. It affects those who live alone, and those who live with family. Extroverts and introverts alike.
For almost 10 years, Somerset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter appeal has provided vital grants to older people living in fuel poverty. Supported by generous local donors, we make grants to over 500 households to keep older people safe, warm and well each winter.
But we want to do more to tackle the loneliness and isolation that makes winter such a tough time for so many people. We want to fund 40 community Christmas meals this year to bring people together, reduce loneliness and keep our communities strong.
Sharing a meal, laughter and a chat is one of the simplest ways we can feel connected to others. Bringing people together from across a community to share a meal is a powerful way to reduce loneliness and create new friendships that can last long beyond winter.
We’re looking for generous local companies who can donate £250 to sponsor a community Christmas meal.
Every company that donates £250 or more will receive a Somerset Community Foundation Christmas e-card to send in place of Christmas cards to their clients and colleagues to celebrate their support.
Together, we can make Christmas merry and brighter for our communities.