Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action along with partners HOPE (Helping Older People Engage), Royal Voluntary Service, Community Cars, Community Companions and Blether Buddies have delivered 150 Christmas bags to older people who are on their own this Christmas.
Prior to COVID-19, this partnership ran a variety of events together, including – lunches, Christmas parties and outings for hundreds of elderly people who rely on third sector services for social interaction, building relationships and simply a day out. In line with Government restrictions, most group outings and parties cannot take place this festive period, which is expected to increase feelings of isolation for many elderly service users.
As part of Dundee’s Year of the Older Person, partners wanted to ensure that regular service users did not feel alone this Christmas. With thanks to donations from local businesses, the partnership put together a bag of sweet treats, alongside a newsletter, to be delivered by volunteers on the date which would have been their joint Christmas Party. Included in the bags, are a handmade card from Rosebank Primary School, a calendar and a festive newsletter. The festive newsletter features fun activities, festive stories from years gone by and details of services delivering meals and making phone calls to isolated people on Christmas Day. Each bag also contains a mini Christmas pudding, a box of mince pies and other classic Christmas goodies.
DVVA Older Peoples Services Development Officer, Nicola Mitchell said ‘This can go a long way to help people who are alone and lonely at Christmas and give them a sense of being part of a community. That they are considered, valued and included by others. This delivery will hopefully go some way to making this Christmas a little bit more enjoyable for the recipients’
One service user who received a Christmas bag said ‘Since my wife died, I have been on my own with no family to check that I am alright. Because of Covid, I haven’t been able to get out to see my friend. It was a nice surprise to receive this Christmas bag with all these lovely treats. I shall enjoy these over the next few weeks. But, I’m also delighted that Nicola was able to arrange for a Christmas Day Dinner to be delivered to me from Dundee United. I will really enjoy that one.’
Jennifer Heffell, Rosebank Primary School Head Teacher said ‘The children were enthused and delighted to make Christmas cards for older people in the community who otherwise may not receive wishes or Christmas cheer. When we did this last session, it was lovely that some of the recipients also wrote back – the leadership group were delighted.’
Lesley George, Leadership Development Partner from Tesco’s Customer Engagement Centre in Dundee commented: ‘It is important to all of our colleagues in the CEC that the elderly members of our communities are not forgotten. We met Nicola a couple of years ago and were happy to support with some of her activities. It has been a tough year for many but it is great that we can still work together to support DVVA and the great work they do.’
Steven Watson, Non-food Manager from Tesco Extra South Road said ‘Sharon Duchan (Store Manager) and myself were more than happy to help Nicola and the DVVA group in their request to help to produce 150 gift bags filled with essential items for the older vulnerable population of Dundee. It is even more important that this year we pull together as a community and city to help those in need, as we fully understand that many older citizens may be alone over the coming weeks. We were more than delighted to help Nicola with her request to bring a little cheer to their lives at this time.’