Christmas and the holiday season for most is about spending quality time with the relationships we cherish – our family and friends. But for some older people, this isn’t always possible for one reason or another. Feros Care, an aged care provider has launched a campaign “More the Merrier” in the hope to tackle social isolation.
Christmas is a particularly difficult time for people dealing with loneliness and isolation, and with the challenges that this year has brought with it, 2020’s Christmas season in particular should be spent surrounded by people, virtually or otherwise.
For more than 100 isolated older people, this year’s Christmas celebration will focus on connecting them with their community, albeit virtually as they tune in virtually to share Christmas brunch around the country. The ‘Christmas Brunch with a Difference’ aims to tackle loneliness in older people, and for some, it’s the first Christmas in a long time spent with others.
Last year, 90 year old John Steele took part in the annual More the Merrier campaign. That Christmas brunch marked the first in 30 years he’d spent with others. The ‘Christmas Brunch with a Difference’ was a gift like no other after spending so many Christmases alone.
“That Christmas [last year] meant a lot to me because it was the first Christmas dinner I’d had in 30 years with people around me. It made me feel good,” said John.
“Connection and friendship are the greatest gifts you can have.”
On December 25th, participants will gather around their tables, linking up via laptops, smart tablets and phones, through Feros Care’s Virtual Social Centre digital platform, and will share in Christmas Hampers, which will be delivered in advance by the not-for-profit.
The group of 100 will be broken up into smaller, more intimate “tables” as guests enjoy a two hour brunch together, with volunteers giving up their own Christmas Day to keep the conversation rolling across the e-tables.
The hampers, which will be opened together and shared on the day include festive treats like delicious food and drinks, a bon bon for cracking, a CD full of festive favourite songs and carols, and each participant will also receive a special Christmas gift.
“We see loneliness every day in our work, but Christmas is known to be the loneliest time of all, especially for our treasured seniors and more than ever this year, when so many loved ones have been divided across international and state borders,” said Jo Winwood, head of Be Someone For Someone.
“More than a quarter of Australians experience loneliness and we have met seniors who worried that they would never hear their name spoken again or that their voice might not work, it had been so long since they had spoken to someone.
“Be Someone For Someone is committed to helping people enjoy the social connections critical for humans to survive. Christmas is such a difficult time so we’re spreading the message that the more connected we are, the merrier we will be,” Jo said.
“No one should be alone at Christmas and the team at Be Someone For Someone is doing what they can to break the cycle of isolation that impacts so many people,” said Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley.
If you’d like to get involved with this incredible cause, you can donate $50 to ensure a lonely older person will wake up on Christmas Day to a hamper under their tree, and for $100 you can gift them a seat at the brunch. You can also contribute to the hampers, or share your own stories about the importance of online connection. More importantly, you can inspire others to get involved.
This year, you also have the chance to win a pair of iPads to help foster even greater connections between you and a friend. By sharing your heartwarming plans for this year’s online connections and festivities, you go into the running to win, thanks to Be Someone For Someone and their community efforts to raise awareness of the need to reach out to others at Christmas.
For more information and to get involved, visit www.besomeoneforsomeone.org/morethemerrier