Festive cheer for the older community in Holbeck

December has always been a jam-packed month of festivities at Holbeck Together and due to the current safety guidelines, we’ve had to be even more creative in developing ways of spreading as much seasonal cheer as possible!

Due to the change in guidelines, we had to revise our original plans, but wanted to give people the opportunity to get into the festive spirit at home with a range of activities, whilst continuing to receive crucial wellbeing support and opportunities to be active and safe.

At the beginning of December we sent out festive Recipe Kits to people living locally, which included chef Julie’s instructions and all the necessary ingredients, for those who wanted to try their hand at a bit of seasonal home cooking.

We sent out Christmas at-home-Craft Kits, to make handmade Christmas baubles, with instructions and craft materials. Made from yarn, clients made decorations to adorn their trees or give as gifts.

We celebrated Christmas Jumper Day by popping round to visit older members of the community who had donned their favourite Christmas jumper in aid of Save the Children. Participants received a doorstep wellbeing chat and some Christmas treats and volunteers collected donations.

We know that our deliveries to clients may be the only face to face interactions they have that day or week and volunteers and staff always stop for a socially-distanced chat where possible. Ensuring that our clients have the support and can access the services they need has become even more vital as this year has unfolded and we approach all service delivery from a health- and wellbeing-informed perspective. We continue to deliver 1-2-1 support, making 100+ well-being calls per week and providing practical advice and advocacy services over the phone.

In addition to our emergency food parcel service, in response to winter pressures and with support from the Leeds Community Foundation Stay Well This Winter fund, we delivered 60 Winter Warmer Hampers to our older community members. The parcels included winter health information, a flask, reusable face masks, hand sanitiser, hand crocheted blankets, hand warmers, hats and scarf and a torch, and were lovingly packed by a team of Leeds United volunteers.

Accessing hot, nutritious food which is delivered to the door by a friendly face has become a daily lifeline for many of our clients. In addition to our regular service, we wanted to make some of these mainstays extra special as part of our festive programme.

On the Friday before Christmas (18 December 2020) we delivered a festive supper and festive activity pack to 50 older members of the community. The packs had been made by NCS youth volunteers from the Leeds United Foundation and include a range of puzzles, recipes and craft activities. The packs were delivered by our Christmas helpers and the suppers included mince pies handmade by volunteers from TransUnion.

On the Tuesday before Christmas (22 December 2020) we delivered a full Christmas dinner lunch to 50 older members of the community. Some of our clients have told us that this will be their main Christmas meal, so Chef Julie and her fantastic team of volunteer elves worked to make it as special as possible.

As an extra treat, volunteers will be delivering fish and chip suppers from local favourite Park Fisheries on Christmas Eve.

After a particularly challenging year, we wanted to make sure that everyone had something special to open this Christmas Day. Our incredible team have been out in the community delivering 100 Christmas Morning Hampers. These have been compiled from donations from TransUnion, Morrisons, Friends of Middleton Park, Engie, British Gas and The Becklin Centre at St. James’ Hospital, and lovingly packed by local volunteers from the community. It’s the personal touches that make Christmas special and hamper highlights include homemade Terry’s Chocolate Orange flapjacks, made by the amazing team at TransUnion.

The office will be closed over Christmas weekend, but our fantastic team of volunteers and staff will continue to do wellbeing and befriending calls over the break, to the most isolated members of the community.

Regular operations will commence on 28 December and we’ll be delivering a full roast beef dinner to 50 older members of the community on New Years Eve. Our final hot meal delivery of 2020, we’ll be adding some extra sparkle to the delivery, for our clients to bring in the New Year in style.

Our daily 1-2-1 walking sessions, which have temporarily replaced the popular walking group, have been hugely popular and we’ll be developing these further in the New Year. Our DVD library is up and running, so to get involved and start receiving the new releases and old classics directly to your door, click here. Our Social Supermarket will be back on Thursday 7 January 2021.

It’s been an incredible team effort this year, and without the help of our fantastic volunteers, supporters and funders, none of this would have been possible: we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the 11,000+ meals delivered directly to our older clients’ homes; we wouldn’t have been able to provide 1,500+ meals to families locally; we wouldn’t have been able to shop on behalf of someone who couldn’t get out 182 times; to provide food relief through our 1,800+ food parcels; to provide individualised wellbeing support to those who are isolated at home more than 2,700 times; or to provide almost 2,000 at home activity packs for our older community and young families.

Thank you to everyone who has pitched in and lent a hand.

We wanted to reach out to as many people as possible at what can be a difficult time of the year. This month, we sent out Season’s Greetings cards to everyone in Holbeck, all 5,300 addresses. It was a gesture of friendship during the festive season, but also includes practical information about how people can access support should they need it.

Our hope was to connect with people we haven’t met before and reach out to those who aren’t digitally connected. It’s been wonderful to hear from people, so please give us a call and say hi if you’d like. You’ll hopefully also see our banners dotted about Holbeck – we want as many people as possible to know there’s support, advice and activities available in their community. So please spread the word!


This post was written by Holbeck Together

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