Driving it home for Christmas

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

JUST over two weeks to go to the big day and feelings are mixed.

Hopefully, most people are looking forward to a Christmas with family and friends, but sadly that does not apply to everyone and for many, the outlook is bleak.

Coronavirus has shown only too clearly the huge divide between those that have a good support network – be that family, friends, neighbours or others in their community and those that are alone.

Over the last nine months, people have gone the extra mile to make sure that no-one goes hungry and no one is left isolated as we have all united for one common cause – fighting COVID-19.

From the very beginning, way back in March, communities in Torquay, Brixham and Paignton came together in ways not seen before, to look out for each other and that spirit of oneness is thankfully still with us.

Time and again as rules have been changed – relaxed and tightened – the people of Torbay have done what they do best, and that is to make sure we are all in this together, fighting the same fight and fighting for those who need it most.

When the figures went through the roof a few weeks ago, people realised that things were going have to change, and within just a few weeks, the numbers were tamed and we are again back on track.

Now, just over a week into Tier 2 restrictions, we do not know what the future holds, not even what the next week will bring, but whatever it is, we will hunker down and deal with it in any way that we can.

These final days in the build-up to Christmas are so important in so many ways – we have to keep the number of cases in check to allow us to celebrate with families on the day.

But we also need the chance to let our hair down a little after what has been for so many a truly dreadful year – taking its toll on a personal, as well as economic level.

We also need the chance, to get out onto the high street in a sensible, masked and socially distanced way, to support our local businesses to help ensure they will still be with us at the end of all this.

Sadly, we will not be getting out to office parties, or other traditional festive events this year, but there is plenty going on in different ways – ways that 12 months ago would have seemed incomprehensible.

We have worked with the Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust to pull together a guide to online events and activities this December which along with info on Christmas restrictions/arrangements can be found at www.ageingwelltorbay.com/christmas-2020/

It is an opportunity to connect with your community virtually. Just because we can’t be together, doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. Take a look at the guide to some of the local and national activities available, to get you in the festive spirit, or support your wellbeing.

There is a bit of everything – just presented in a different way this year –  including carolling you can listen to online, or take part in with your neighbours from your own doorstep, and online church services courtesy of Riviera Life Church.

There are also cooking and craft workshops, musical and panto performances, and of course, the Torbay Christmas Trail – which now has more than 3,000 people sharing their Christmas lighting interests over on Facebook.

Christmas is not going to be easy and as good news as the impending vaccine is, it will not come in time for most of us to make a difference this Christmas and New Year.

So please, keep on doing what you have been doing all year, watching out for each other, checking in with neighbours and making lots of zoom and traditional telephone calls.

Do call on a neighbour, just to check. Too many people will not be spending their Christmas in the bosom of their families and more people than ever before are facing the festive season alone for the very first time.

If you need help or want to offer help then the Torbay Community Helpline will be available but the hours will be a little different for the weeks commencing December 21st and December 28th – from 10am to 2pm from Monday to Thursday only – on 01803 446022.