Spreading a little festive cheer

by Joanna Hammond

Spreading a little festive cheer

We were so pleased to be able to support so many people over this difficult Christmas period. Thank you so much to all of the volunteers and staff who gave up so much of their Christmas break to keep services running and spread a little festive cheer.

Over the Christmas period: 272 drives were undertaken to support the Covid 19 vaccination programme. Staff worked over the Christmas period taking bookings and there were 40 active volunteer drivers.

Prior to lockdown, Christmas Lunch Clubs were held at The Great Western at Blockley, The Halfway House at Kineton, The Bell at Willersey and the Three Ways at Mickleton, providing a delicious Christmas Lunch for some of our Lunch Club clients. Our thanks go to the venues for a huge planning effort to ensure that these lunches could go ahead in a safe and socially distanced way. Everyone seated at the same tables were either from the same household or in the same support bubble.

150 Christmas food gift hampers were organised and delivered to those most lonely and isolated, the hampers included Christmas foods and handmade gifts including Christmas cakes baked by Gill and Chris Wright. We received many lovely messages of thanks including:

‘OH ! What a lovely surprise…a goody-bag that will keep me going into the new year…….much appreciated……..thank you.’ ‘Dear Wonderful Cotswold Friends staff and volunteers, Thank you very much for the fantastic, well thought out and generous goodie bag which was a most unexpected surprise…… It is amazing that you also find time to imagine, pack and deliver these bags as well as organising transport for over-80s for vaccines from as far away as Bibury. We are extremely fortunate to have you where we live.’

27 Christmas Lunches were delivered on Christmas day to people who did not have the resources/capability to cook their own lunch. The lunches were cooked by Dorn Farm, The Great Western and Oak Tree Mews and delivered by Dorn Farm and Sam, Geoff, Julie, Rob and Bridget from the Cotswold Friends team. Thank you.

280 Christmas telephone befriending phone calls were made by volunteers and staff to help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Over the Christmas period the Cotswold Friends phone line remained open to take emergency calls and all calls received were responded to, mainly people just wanted to chat (18 calls/emails). Our Carer Respite and Befriending Service supported 2 people who needed immediate assistance.

Prior to Christmas week over 2,000 Christmas Activities Newsletters (paper copy and email) were delivered to individual households and care homes and people were supported to undertake the Christmas activities. The Cotswold Friends Christmas Singalong on Christmas Eve starring ‘Susie Bromwich and her amazing voice’ was promoted in the Christmas Newsletter with printed song sheets so all could join in.

750 Covid Christmas cards were sent offering support over the Christmas period. The cards were designed by student Charlotte Gravelson who volunteers for the Intergenerational Befriending Project (and the design was also used on the Christmas gift bags). Many thanks to AutoServe Club who sponsored the printing of the Christmas Cards.

390 volunteers received a Thank You gift voucher in their Christmas Card for a hot drink and piece for cake at a café local to them. One volunteer told us: ‘I received your very kind gift today of a voucher for tea and cake at my favourite farm shop, and wanted to thank you very much indeed. It was a lovely surprise, totally unnecessary but will be used and enjoyed with great gusto!……Cotswold Friends is a fabulous organisation and you all make such a positive difference, so thank you.’

Despite the Covid restrictions we did all we could to make sure as many people as possible received support and Christmas cheer over the festive period. Thank you to all those who interrupted their holiday to help.

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