You may have seen an advert from a national retailer, urging people to make contact with an older person this Christmas.

Many residents and scheme members have told us that before they came to MHA, they did indeed feel so lonely that they might as well have been on the moon. Christmas can be especially hard; many older people have no friends or family nearby (or at all) and the number of cards they receive can dwindle every year, or even stop completely.

So every year, as part of our Christmas Friendship Appeal, we ask people to write an extra Christmas card, send it to us, and we’ll deliver it directly into the hand of an older person in one of our care homes, retirement living communities or Live at Home schemes.

All our projects celebrate Christmas, so no resident or scheme member will be without company. But there’s no substitute for a card that came from outside the home or scheme. It forms a valuable link with the wider world and lets an older person know that someone out there cares, even if they don’t know each other. As one North Shields Live at Home member said, “It’s very nice that people think of me at this time of year and they don’t even know me.”

Retailers should highlight the true importance of Christmas, beyond the encouragement to buy lots of “things” – the importance of remembering vulnerable older people amongst all the celebrations and festivities. MHA have been saying this for many years. Befriending is one of the most important and appreciated activities carried out by our volunteers.

So your one extra card this Christmas could make so much difference to a vulnerable older person. Send your card to Kirsty Millward at MHA, Epworth House, Stuart Street, Derby DE1 2EQ. If you use a stamp, we’ll be able to direct as many of our resources as possible towards the vulnerable older people in our services.

Merry Christmas to you.

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