Christmas is an amazing time of year for most. However, some people may not have family and friends, and will not see anyone on Christmas Day. Here at BFCCT, we value every single person in the community and believe that no one deserves to celebrate Christmas alone. Thanks to funding from The EFL Trust and DCMS we been delivering a Tackling Loneliness Together project to offer support to those who might be socially isolated and lonely consisting of phone calls, garden gate visits, online social groups, and postal support. This has enabled us to create relationships with external partners such as Blackpool Coastal Housing, who have been able to refer individuals who are most at risk of being socially isolated and lonely.
During a garden gate conversation, one of our participants mentioned that they send themselves a Christmas card, so that they have something to open at Christmas time, as they do not receive anything else. As this discovery was discussed in the office and members of staff from the Community Trust were taken aback by this admission, it was soon decided that we would offer garden gate visits to those in need on Christmas Day. Soon after, phone calls were made to our current participants and we soon discovered that this was a genuine need for some of the community and this was the motivation for the project. In total, we had 15 members of the community wanting a visit on Christmas Day. Staff were paired up and routes were developed for each pair meaning they could work efficiently.
After finding out that there was a real need for this programme, we wanted to supply a gift and cards for our participants. Boxes full of biscuits and treats, donated by Burtons Biscuits and Foxes, were wrapped up for our visits, as well as Christmas cards made by local SEND schools: Park Academy, Highfurlong and Woodlands school.
On Christmas Day, Trust staff ensured that all government COVID guidelines were followed. Presents and cards were dropped off via a contactless drop off.
Nathan Davies (Community Health Officer)- With this year being so difficult, it has been a real eye opener for us all. I feel very fortunate to have lots of supportive friends and family, but due to the nature of my work I realised that not everyone was as lucky as I am. This was the motivation to help some of the community who may not have to opportunity to even see somebody on Christmas Day. After the visits were done, it was so rewarding to see so many faces light up when they opened their doors. This is a steppingstone for what could potentially be done in the future, to support those most in need.
William (Participant)- I really look forward to my weekly phone calls with Brad. Having that phone call really does help with my mental health. I would not have normally seen anyone on Christmas Day so to see you guys is amazing.
Alan (participant) – to see Nathan & Seb on Christmas Day was extremely special. In recent years I have spent Christmas Day on my own. This year, thanks to BFCCT I received cards, gifts, and a food parcel and thanks to Tangerine Angels, I was also able to enjoy a Christmas Dinner. The weekly phone calls I have had with Nathan during 2020 have significantly improved my mental health and it gives me something to look forward too each week.