Hartlepool youngsters help to tackle loneliness

Anne Sykes of Age UK Teesside, Barbara Lyle of the Stay Safe and Warm co-ordinator and pensioner Shirley Ellis with some of the dance school members who donated gifts to the scheme.
Anne Sykes of Age UK Teesside, Barbara Lyle of the Stay Safe and Warm co-ordinator and pensioner Shirley Ellis with some of the dance school members who donated gifts to the scheme.

Caring Hartlepool youngsters rallied round to help lonely people across the region this Christmas after being moved by John Lewis’s TV advert.

Thoughtful children from the town’s Jill Cooper Academy of Dance wrote letters and collected gifts for elderly and lonely people who might be spending the holidays alone.

They have made a difference right across Teesside

Anne Sykes, Age UK Teesside

They presented the personal messages and generous gifts to Age UK Teesside at Hartlepool’s Flix Movie Cafe in Church Square.

The youngsters had been inspired to help tackle loneliness by this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert, which features a little girl sending presents to an old man who lives alone on the Moon.

Anne Sykes, chief executive of Age UK Teesside, said: “The children have been absolutely amazing.

“We suggested the children give a small gift like some biscuits but they gave us things like slippers, hot water bottles and lots of different things, which was amazing.

“Along with the fire brigade, the messages and presents are being distributed in Hartlepool and also some in Stockton, Redcar and Middlesbrough, so they have made a difference right across Teesside.”

At the presentation, the children met Hartlepool pensioner Shirley Ellis, who Age UK and Cleveland Fire Brigade have helped this year through the Stay Safe Stay Warm campaign.

Anne said there are 51,000 older people in the North East who will be alone this Christmas.

She said: “It is obviously growing year on year because of the ageing population and I think everyone is concerned about reaching as many people as we can.”

Age UK provides information, advice and support including a befriending service for people who cannot get out much.

But Anne said there appears to be a gap in provision in Hartlepool.

“We have been looking for befrienders for a lady and have rang a few agencies but nobody seems to know of a service being run in Hartlepool,” said Anne.

She said she plans to get in touch with Hartlepool Borough Council in the New Year to discuss the issue.

For information about the work of Age UK Teesside, contact them on (01642) 803322.