By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Lead
Unlike some of my colleagues, I studiously avoid the subject of Christmas until I am forced to accept the fact that it is but a few weeks away.
Each to their own, but not for me the early decorations and the dressing of trees that will not survive until the big day and as for external illuminations. No thank you.
I am not, however, entirely bah humbug, I do love the festive season and I, like so many others, am looking forward to this year’s celebrations – particularly as last years were much less than anticipated..
But for many people across the Bay, this Christmas will be much like any other – lonely, ordinary and definitely not something to look forward to. In fact, the contrary, something to dread.
Other people’s happiness, when you are not, can be painful and can plunge people into depression as they look on from the side-lines, unable to join in for any number of complex and varied reasons.
They may not have friends, their relatives might live many miles away and they may be estranged. They may not feel they can join in because they cannot afford to. They might just not want to.
So, now is the time to think about Christmas; this is crucial time of year for many charities and voluntary bodies as they plan to ensure there is something for everyone to look forward regardless of their current circumstances.
There are Christmas meals to organise where people who might not otherwise see anyone on the day can come together with others in similar circumstances, to eat drink and hopefully be merry for a few hours.
Planning many such meals has already started as volunteers, who are happy to give up a few hours of their own big day, need to be recruited now and that includes, cooks, bottle washers, waiting staff, drivers and befrienders.
Rooms need to be booked and funds raised to buy the food that will grace the tables before any of them can go ahead and then, of course, there is making sure everyone that needs to know about them, hears about them.
People who cannot, for whatever reason, leave their homes, also need to be catered for with food being taken to them along with someone who can spend a little time to break the monotony of what might otherwise be just another day.
The Torbay Food Alliance has already started looking for donors who can help them fill hundreds of hampers to take to families who otherwise would not be able to put a festive meal on the table.
Try explaining to your children, or grandchildren that you have had to choose between a festive meal, a Christmas present or keeping warm – an unimaginable choice to many, but one that will be made in homes across the Bay this year.
And of course, there is the build up to Christmas, the numerous social events being pulled together with the help of our Community Builders in venues in towns and villages across the Bay, have to be organised and advertised.
Finally, and in this column, it may be last, but it is by no means least, there is you – what a difference a quick check in or a phone call can make at this time of year to ensure people know that they are not forgotten, that someone cares.
Now is a good time to find out what your neighbours are planning and don’t be fobbed off by shallow words that hide a deeper meaning like ‘I don’t bother much with Christmas’ – which really means ‘I would love to do something, but I have no-one to do with it.’
You are not being nosy when you engage people you are concerned about in conversations that question their whereabouts and plans – you wouldn’t baulk at asking a friend or an acquaintance. It simply shows you care.
It doesn’t take a minute to reach out and it takes very little to keep on reaching out, particularly at this time of year. A knock on the door, a quick phone call, a chat over the garden fence at this time of year, could actually makes someone’s Christmas.
For many of us. it is about lights, presents, and endless celebrations, but for others, a small act of kindness can top all of those things and set someone up for the year.
If you need help or wish to offer help of any kind, please get in touch with the Helpline on 01803 446022, or use the online form: bit.ly/torbayhelpline.