Age UK Wandsworth gives festive gift baskets to more than 1,000 isolated elderly people this Christmas

Age UK Wandsworth will distribute more than 1,000 festive gift baskets to isolated elderly people in the community this Christmas.

Operation Christmas Cheer was launched in the hope of giving every elderly person in Wandsworth a reason to smile over the holiday period, with volunteers from across the community stepping up to make deliveries all over the borough.

The campaign follows Age UK’s prediction that nearly two million older people will be spending Christmas alone this year, a number which may increase now that London has entered Tier 4.

age uk wandsworth christmas isolated elderly people
REASON TO SMILE: Age UK hopes to bring festive joy to more than 1,000 Wandsworth residents this Christmas

Age UK Wandsworth community and wellbeing leader Emma Chisholm said: “2020 has been a shocking year for everyone, but I think older generations have had the toughest deal as they, along with people with medical conditions, are the most impacted by the virus.

“We know the Wandsworth community comes together when asked to, and so there have been so many people involved in making this happen – the outpouring of support has been amazing.

“As was the case with the first lockdown, it was a horrible period but so much good shone out of the community.

“I suppose that’s all we’ve got to hold on at the moment.”

Funded by donations from schools, businesses and residents in Wandsworth, recipients can expect an array of Christmas treats.

Age UK Wandsworth Christmas gift baskets isolated elderly people
CHRISTMAS JOY: One happy recipient of one of Age UK Wandsworth’s festive parcels

The parcels contain festive food, craft kits, toiletries, a hot water bottle, a handmade Christmas card from schoolchildren in the area, and official Wimbledon Championships towels and mugs donated by the Wimbledon Foundation.

The charity has also received support from Ainsley Harriott MBE, who has promoted the campaign on social media, as well as from the Fire Brigades in Wandsworth, Tooting, and Battersea, who have helped deliver the gift baskets.

Doug Ayris, who received a parcel, said: “It was such a lovely surprise to open my front door to find an elf carrying a bag of Christmas goodies intended for me!

“I cannot have a proper Christmas and am unable to celebrate it in any way this year, due to us being in Tier 4, so little gestures of kindness such as this make a huge difference to the holiday season.

“Thank you so much to Age UK for thinking of me at this time.”

Age UK Wandsworth Christmas gift baskets
COMMUNITY EFFORT: Wandsworth Fire Brigade helped deliver the parcels to elderly residents

Chisolm said the charity has received many phone calls and emails from elderly residents expressing their gratitude over the past couple weeks, with several saying the campaign has made their Christmas.

She added: “It’s been a real pleasure to do something positive to finish off this horrible year.

“We hope it makes people smile.”

For information on the support available for elderly people this Christmas, you can visit this page.

You can also click here for more details about Operation Christmas Cheer.

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