New research by Contact the Elderly (now Re-engage) highlights that ‘Christmas anxiety’ is a common issue and 75% of us have still not made plans, despite the day only being six weeks away.
The research was commissioned by the charity to highlight how societal pressures can have a huge impact on older people who are often left forgotten and forced to spend Christmas alone.
The survey, which was sent out to 2,000 respondents across the UK, found that almost 20% of us worry about upsetting family members when making Christmas plans despite the fact that 44% of people make the same festive plans every year. For two thirds of us, those plans normally involve staying at home and a third of all respondents say that Christmas regularly involves visiting older relatives.
The charity released the festive research to coincide with the news that they’ve joined forces with Community Christmas, an organisation which aims to ensure no older person spends Christmas Day alone unless they want to. With nearly half a million older people facing spending Christmas alone, many of whom have been widowed, the charities are encouraging communities to come together and provide companionship for older people who have nowhere to go.
This collaboration comes in advance of a full merger in 2019, and has come at a time where the event listings are expected to hit an all-time high. When the site was established back in 2011 there were just four events listed. Following support from a number of high profile businesses and organisations, including Waitrose and the Jo Cox Foundation, last year they listed over 800 free activities across the UK.
Commenting on the merger, Meryl Davies, Chief Executive of Contact the Elderly, said: “Everyone recognises that Christmas can be a difficult time of year, particularly for people who are isolated or vulnerable. Caroline made it her mission to ensure that anyone who doesn’t want to spend Christmas Day alone doesn’t have to. As an organisation, it is the perfect fit for Contact the Elderly which has been fighting isolation and loneliness among older people for over 50 years through volunteer-led social gatherings.
“We want to ensure Community Christmas continues to grow and to encourage people across the UK to think about any older people in their local communities who might not have plans for Christmas Day. This is a chance to tell older people about Community Christmas, or look at the website for them to find their nearest event. We’d love this to spark conversations between people who might not otherwise speak to each other, whether it’s someone you meet in the street or your next-door neighbour.”
Caroline Billington, who founded Community Christmas back in 2011 said:
“Now, Community Christmas is its own entity, it’s growing organically with more and more events and activities being added to the site every day. I think its really important to emphasise that anyone can host an event, it doesn’t have to involve cooking a Christmas feast for 20 people. It could just mean arranging tea and Christmas cake at a local village hall, or singing Christmas carols in the pub. It’s anything that gets people together in the community who otherwise might be alone on Christmas Day.
“I can’t wait to see how it will change and evolve under the leadership of Contact the Elderly and create more community connections.”
If you’re interested in putting on an activity this year, or know of one taking place, please get in touch with our team at Community Christmas.
Note - Contact the Elderly is now Re-engage
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