“You’ve made my day!” exclaimed Betty Richens, one of 800 isolated senior citizens in the borough to receive a festive meal and gift bag as part of our Big H&F Christmas Lunch.
The event was a huge success, thanks to a concerted community effort to ensure residents living alone did not feel neglected.
Local social enterprise The Smile Brigade played a vital role in preparing the meals and organising volunteers to assemble the lunch packages, then deliver them to hundreds of addresses throughout the borough.
Betty Richens summed up the response after receiving her festive lunch: “You’ve made my day! I’ve been spoilt through and through with a perfectly cooked meal, fruit, veg, Christmas pud, plus two books,” she said.
“When you’re alone, not only the food but having someone thinking of you is invaluable. Thanks a million. Your heart is certainly in the right place.”
Another who received a meal praised “the delicious food, gifts and groceries which are most welcome and make Christmas Day very special”, while yet another added thanks “for the lovely turkey dinner” and the gifts which accompanied it.
We worked with local charity UNITED in H&F to raise funds for the project. The generosity of the community was matched by local organisations including idverde, our contractor for grounds maintenance services and landscape creation projects.
“We knew Christmas would be challenging for many elderly people who have suffered great losses during the pandemic,” said Savraj Kaur, Executive Director of UNITED in H&F.
“We wanted people to know they weren’t alone, and it was incredible to see the community coming together to make 25 December brighter for our isolated residents.”
Nikos Soulous, Logistics Administrator for The Smile Brigade, said: “It was such a joy being part of the community Christmas meals project, and to help get free meals and gifts to 800 isolated and vulnerable local residents. Working with so many wonderful colleagues and volunteers made an otherwise difficult job so much easier and enjoyable!'”
While receiving a package cheered many elderly residents, being part of the project was also uplifting for those who worked on it.
“Thank you for letting me participate as a volunteer in this year’s Christmas support campaign,” said volunteer Chrissie Hammond. “It was a truly profound experience.”
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