Hyndburn charity helps to combat loneliness and spread festive cheer this Christmas

Accrington based charity Community Solutions North West have been helping to put a smile on the faces of those facing Christmas alone, or feeling isolated, this year with the distribution of almost 500 free wellbeing boxes to local residents and their families.

The charity supports people across East Lancashire who may be facing life alone or in crisis, with an emphasis on ending loneliness and social isolation. Demand for their services has increased exponentially this year, with a 300% rise in the number of people accessing their befriending service in the last 9 months due to the coronavirus crisis, leading them to launch their biggest ever winter loneliness campaign.

Each year the charity runs campaign to highlight loneliness, which in the past has included delivering food parcels to those in need, providing Christmas lunches at their base in Elmfield Hall and even launching a new hospital visiting service, Visit Me, in the winter of 2019. This year they decided to launch their biggest campaign yet, to try and reach as many people as possible, who may have been feeling lonely or isolated at this time, and to thank their many volunteers who have worked tirelessly to support the local community throughout the crisis.

“This year has been a strange year for so many people, with isolation and loneliness affecting more people than ever before. We wanted to try and bring a little festive cheer to the people we support, and their families, to let them know that we are thinking of them at this time and are here to help’ said Deborah Clark, CEO of Community Solutions.

"Thanks to our supporters including Onward Homes, The Henry Smith Foundation and The Cardboard Box Company we have been able to provide gift boxes packed with essential items, festive treats and various activities that will help to improve the wellbeing of those who may need it most. We have never distributed as many boxes as we have done this year before, but we know that a lot of people have found this year really tough and just wanted people to know that they are not alone."

Leanne Taylor, enterprise development manager said: “We’ve had fantastic support from our Volunteers who have given up endless hours of their time to pack and distribute the boxes with us. We’ve also had great support from Darwen Vale High School students who wrote 500 Christmas Cards for us to hand out and from Nelson and Colne College Group who donated handcrafted decorations made by their engineering department for each box.’

“The feedback we have had from recipients of the box has been really heart warming with many people telling us that it made their day and really cheered them up. Under normal circumstances we run a varied programme of social groups which are well attended and have lots of visitors to our onsite café Mr Gatty’s Tea Rooms too. As people cannot come to us at the moment, we decided to take Christmas to them, and we’re really touched by how much of an impact it has made for so many people in the area”