87 year old Alice* has the toughest year she can remember.
At the beginning of the year, her calendar was full of things to keep herself busy and connected, from lunch clubs to trips to the supermarket on the community bus.
But, when the pandemic hit, all of these connections disappeared. Suddenly, she was alone at home, all day, every day, with no friends or family to call on for help.
While many of us have muddled through this year with our loved ones just a video call away, the majority of our Marmalade members, like Alice, have never felt more isolated. Thankfully, we were able to support Alice with our short-term telephone companionship project during lockdown, and she enjoyed weekly chats with one of our brilliant volunteers.
But, now the Christmas season looms, and for Alice, the news of eased Christmas restrictions and talk of families gathering only makes her feel more alone - she doesn’t have anyone to meet up with and the world feels gray.
At Marmalade Trust, we know that the Christmas period is often the most painful time of year for those struggling with loneliness and isolated. This year, more than ever before, we've made it our mission to reach out to anyone who would otherwise be alone, and to support them to feel connected and cared for.
We’ve put together a Christmas campaign to bring joy and companionship to Alice and almost 200 other people like her this winter.
A weekly telephone call throughout December and January with their volunteer ‘Winter Companion’.
A ‘Connection Advent Calendar’ hand delivered to their door, with 24 days of connection and activities.
A delicious Christmas dinner (if they would like one).
A knock on their door on Christmas Day from their Winter Companion, who will deliver a hamper bursting with gifts. For most, this will be the only person they see on the day, and the only gift they’ll receive. Their volunteer will stay for a physically distanced doorstep chat.
What’s in the Connection Advent Calendars?
Brace yourself... this is quite a list!!
A Christmas card handmade by a local school child
A beautifully crafted ‘Pigeon’, a combination of letter and envelope inspired by origami.
A delicious Elizabeth Shaw biscuit
A face mask handmade by Alive Activities
Poems, pictures or a Christmas decoration donated by Mamas Group
A stunning robin decoration handmade by Bristol Junior Chamber
Exercise sheets, colouring sheets and pencils from Bristol Bears Community Foundation
A fridge magnet
An Ombar chocolate bar
An invitation to a story reading by telephone
A Christmas quiz
An invitation to a poetry reading by telephone
An invitation to a Christmas party (more on this to be announced soon!)
Christmas carols on the telephone
A handwritten letter by a local school child
A gift voucher kindly donated by The Lounges
And so much more!
We’re so grateful for the kind organisations and businesses who have helped make these advent calendars possible. We also want to say a big thank you to the UWE paramedic students who helped us put together and deliver the calendars!
Here are some photos of the connection advent calendars...
* Names and identifying features have been changed.