Isolated residents came together for some early Christmas cheer at a special party organised by Swindon Borough Council’s Health and Wellbeing team.
Many of the 30 or so residents who attended Eastcott Community Centre in Savernake Street yesterday afternoon (11 Dec) face spending Christmas alone so the party was an opportunity for them to enjoy some food, meet new friends and sing some carols.
The get together was supported by Zurich International and match-funded by Zurich Community Trust, who supplied a buffet lunch, transport for each of the guests and presents for all those who attended.
Budding Mariah Careys from Commonweal School also provided superb renditions of some festive classic tunes to get everyone in the festive mood.
Volunteer bakers supplied cakes, Lotmead Farm donated a Christmas tree and Swindon Circles volunteers, who provide companionship to the people who attended, were also on hand to pull a cracker or two.
Seventy-five-year-old Irene Killick, who spent a number of years isolated in her own home before meeting Swindon Circles volunteer Maureen Hughes, said she was thrilled to be at the Christmas party.
“This party means a great deal to me because I will be alone at Christmas. It is wonderful to be out of the house and meeting all these people,” said Irene. “Maureen is an absolute gem, she really is.”
Maureen, who has been a Swindon Circles volunteer for 18 months, added: “Irene suffers from agoraphobia so it is great she now has the confidence to come out of her house to an event like this. I think it is just brilliant that this party has been organised because it means so much to everyone.
“I just love volunteering. I’m not just a volunteer who helps Irene, we are now friends. We have the same sense of humour and we have so much in common, it is unbelievable.”
Derek Bonner, 92, was equally bowled over by the Christmas festivities. He said: “It is lovely to be invited and to come out and have the chance to talk to other people and develop new friendships.
“It was also lovely to be picked up and brought here today. I’m looking forward to the carols.”
Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “I would like to thank my officers in the Health and Wellbeing team for the outstanding work they do co-ordinating the Swindon Circles volunteers and for organising fantastic events such as this.
“We are also indebted to our volunteers, who selflessly give up their time to help others, and to everyone else who made the Christmas party such a success. I would like to wish them all a very happy Christmas.”