2020 has been a hard year for us all, but no one will be more vulnerable in the next two weeks than our elderly residents who have spent nearly a year without visitors, friends, and family, and are now facing a lonely Christmas.
That’s why, this December, the News is backing a special campaign – one of the most important in our history – to bring some festive cheer up and down our borough, and make sure every OAP knows someone is thinking of them this Christmas.
The Southwark Community Christmas Appeal, set up by United St Saviour’s Charity, St George the Martyr, and Southwark Council, aims to raise nearly £22,000 for charities and community groups helping our older neighbours.
The funds will pay for Christmas meals, hampers and gifts to be delivered, and for socially distanced carols and community activities to be put on up and down the borough, so no one is left out.
In a year when the usual get-togethers and charity events like Christmas Day meals at Bacon’s College and Guy’s and St Thomas’ are unable to go ahead, the role of charities, community groups, TRAs, and volunteers in bringing support to older people’s door-steps, and checking in with elderly residents, has never been more urgent.
“2020 has been an incredibly hard time for many Southwark residents, particularly the older and more vulnerable,” said Sarah Thuram, from United St Saviour’s Charity.
“Southwark’s amazing charities, community groups and tenants associations have been a lifeline for thousands of people throughout the lockdowns – providing food, toiletries, personal contact and often a shoulder to cry on.
“And while there is now light at the end of the tunnel, seeing family and friends this festive season may simply not be an option.
“We are all massively concerned about the impact of a long dark winter alone on older people, and the many people who simply cannot afford a Christmas meal.
“So we have set up this Christmas campaign so that the charities and community groups can once more reach out and help.
“So that people living alone feel cared for and connected, and so that people who have lost so much over the course of the year, have something to bring them joy at Christmas.”
The campaign will get essential funding to more than 30 local charities over the next few days and weeks and help TRAs reach people in need on their estate.
Thousands of freshly cooked Christmas meals will be distributed, along with thousands of food hampers, parcels and goodie bags to people most in need.
And plans are in the works for a Christmas helpline and an online party for hundreds of carers looking after OAPs across the borough.
Southwark councillor Alice Macdonald is the communities and equalities cabinet member at Tooley Street, and a regular food delivery volunteer for Pembroke House.
She urged readers to help any way they can: “Southwark has an incredible community spirit. We know that our borough pulls together when times are tough.
“We need donations but the campaign is not just about that. It’s about what we can all do as individuals, and how we can connect with the people around us.
“Whether you can pledge funds, volunteer your time or check in on an elderly neighbour, please support our campaign this winter.”
At the time of going to press, £6,105 had been pledged so far toward the £21,290 target. Can you help us get there?
To donate, visit: www.spacehive.com/southwark-community-christmas-appeal