OLDER people in Hartlepool enjoyed a hearty Christmas meal thanks to a peoples’ forum and national charity.
A group of 25 people enjoyed the festive feast at the Hartfields Retirement Village, on the Bishop Cuthbert estate, in Hartlepool.
It was made possible thanks to the Hartlepool 50+ Forum and Age UK.
With funding from the Royal Mail Group, more than 180 older people’s groups across the country have helped provide festive dinners for thousands of people in later life.
The meals were provided as part of Age UK’s annual ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, which aims to help older people during the difficult winter months.
Royal Mail Group’s donation of £25,000 provided meals for those who may otherwise go without cheer and company throughout the festive season.
Figures show that last year more than 500,000 older people spent Christmas Day alone.
Phyl Rafferty, 50+ development officer at the Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA), said: “Isolation is a year round problem for many older people and its effects can often be felt more acutely at Christmas.
“This event at Hartfields allowed older people in Hartlepool to have a Christmas meal with their peers.
“They enjoyed a good, hot meal and engaged in conversation and activities that help fight off isolation and depression at this special time of the year.”
Paul Farthing, fundraising director at Age UK, said: “We all love getting together with friends and family over the festive period, but Christmas can be particularly daunting for some older people who may feel isolated and lonely at this time of year.
“Age UK is really grateful for the donation from Royal Mail Group which has helped to make winter warmer by supporting local older people’s groups such as Hartlepool 50+ Forum to put on Christmas meals, spreading the festive spirit across the community.”
This winter as many as 25,000 older people could die needlessly because of the cold.
During the ‘Spread the Warmth’ campaign, Age UK and its partners are working to keep older people warm and well providing social activities and contact for older people, as well as tips on combating the cold at home and outdoors.
The charity is also calling on the Government to boost the energy efficiency of older people’s homes.
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ with a free thermometer.
Alternatively visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide or make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting the website.