The Young Christian Workers (YCW) Impact Youth Group in Ramsbottom, together with Caritas Salford,  have hosted an event for community Christmas for several years now, uniting the community to ensure that older people who are alone at Christmas are not forgotten.  We caught up with Lisa, one of the organisers.

How did your community Christmas go for you last year?

We had another fantastic year.  We prepared and delivered 330 meals, including to local care homes and sheltered accommodation facilities, and we had a very busy drop in café for anyone who wanted company on Christmas Day.  We were able to offer transport  to and from the cafe for our older and housebound guests and every meal we delivered included a small Christmas present.

It was wonderful to have so many teenagers involved again -  one of them told me “This is Christmas for us, and we can't imagine spending it in any other way”.

Tell us more about YCW Impact Youth Group

We are a group made up of young people aged between 14-21, along with their parents.  The young people involved are amazing, giving up their Christmas holidays to wrap up presents and pack food parcels for the older people we deliver to.  They also spend most of Christmas Eve helping to set up the café and they volunteer from 9.00am until the last guest has left on Christmas Day.

How has the pandemic changed community Christmas for you?

Prior to the pandemic, every year we would have a full three course sit down meal for 150-200 guests.  Over the past two years, we’ve kept our event going by delivering Christmas meals instead, but it felt good to be able to organise our drop in café this year. 40 older guests, as well as homeless and vulnerable people in the area, came for a meal at the café this year.

Who else was involved with your event?

Community Christmas has become a true community event over the past few years. 

YCW raise funds for the event, and the parishioners of local churches are always very generous with their donations. We’ve also been fortunate to have the support of the local Jewish community, who have helped by providing transport for many of our guests.  Pupils from St Joseph's primary school get involved, with each class collecting a different food item for our food parcels in the run up to Christmas.  Closer to the event we use Ramsbottom Football Club as a base to pack up our boxes, and Ramsbottom Running Club help us move the parcels down to the church hall on Christmas Day.  We have such fantastic support from our local community, as well as from Caritas volunteers.  Oh, and I can’t not mention The Victoria Walshaw, a local restaurant that has cooked our turkey for us for the past three years!

This year, we had a visit from the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, who was overwhelmed by the scale of our work. We also had a BBC live broadcast covering our event and a few of us were interviewed on the day.

Will you be hosting an event next year?

We’ll be starting our fundraising for 2022 soon and we’re all really looking forward to coming together as a community again once more.

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