Tameside Council is linking communities to help older people combat loneliness.
Council staff helped organise a Christmas party funded and hosted by Kerry Foods Hyde that saw 35 older people and carers gather for a sumptuous spread.
A new report published by the Jo Cox Commission has called for the Government to create a national strategy to combat loneliness, saying it’s as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and affects nine million UK people.
But Tameside Council’s Public Health Team is already working to tackle the problem with a Campaign to End Loneliness. As part of this, Partner agencies were invited to hold older people’s day activities in October, which inspired Kerry Foods to arrange the Christmas event, including a quiz and games at the food manufacturer and supplier’s Godley Hill Road premises on December 14. It was a real team effort with Kerry Foods, the Council, New Charter, Age UK and other partner agencies bringing everyone together. Kerry Foods also offered to arrange transport and handed out gift bags, while staff dressed up in Christmas outfits.
Mayor Councillor Joyce Bowerman attended and the choir from Hyde’s Oakfield Primary School charmed guests by singing carols and their own songs, led by Caroline Ratcliffe from Tameside Music Service.
Brenda Warrington, executive member for adult social care and wellbeing said: “This is a business that wants to support our older people in the community and we would like to thank Kerry Foods and encourage other businesses to support our campaign to end loneliness in any way they can. This time of year can be particularly lonely for some people but we want to support people all year round - It’s about getting people out, reducing isolation with everyone coming together and having a good time.”
Georgie Eaton, from Kerry Foods, said: “We wanted to arrange a Christmas party to give something back. It’s a big thing, people who are lonely and don’t get to go out and meet people.
“It’s been great. The children were amazing to say they have never sung outside of school in a choir before. They did a fantastic job and everyone really enjoyed their performance.”
Kerry Foods is hoping to organise a similar event next year.
Eric Kenny, from Droylsden, cares for his wife Carol who is living with dementia.
He said: “It’s hard work being a carer 24 hours a day. It’s quite tiring doing all the cooking, washing and shopping and you feel stuck indoors.
“The Christmas party has been fantastic and there should be more things like this. I’m very glad they have done it and we really appreciate it.”
The couple also attend Forget Me Not Buddies Club for people with dementia, which began six weeks ago. There are 36 members who meet every Monday at St Mary’s Church Hall, Market Street, Denton with entertainment including singers, armchair exercises, quizzes, arts and craft, bingo and outings for bowling, pantos and meals.
The Council is calling for other businesses to get involved with further events - You can contact Angela Wild on 0161 342 3477 to see how you can help.
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