The Christmas Gifts are our way to mark the festive season. Each year the Foundation’s trustees identify a number of small, community based organisations to receive a surprise seasonal boost. The annual theme is decided by the trustees and is separate from the Foundation’s strategic funding areas. Previous years’ donations have supported young carers, inclusive leisure activities for children with disabilities and charities working with homeless people. This year we are supporting initiatives that bring people together to promote well-being, and have donated £136,000 in total to nineteen charities across the UK.
Numerous studies show the prevalence and negative impacts of loneliness and social isolation. We know that a feeling of disconnection, of being apart from your local community or having no one to talk to who will really understand, can be triggered by significant life events. We also know it is something that affects people across all ages, from new parents to older people, and that high risk groups include carers, the recently bereaved and people with disabilities.
Recipients this year include charities whose trained volunteers support adults and children after bereavement, arrange lunch clubs for isolated elderly, or offer activities and friendship for people losing their sight.
In Scotland, Befrienders Highland provide face-to-face, phone, letter or email befriending across the Highlands & Argyll and Bute regions for people with mental ill health, memory loss or who are adult carers.
In Wales, Home-Start Carmarthenshire support families with children under eleven by providing emotional and practical support through parent-to-parent volunteers, the trained volunteer will visit the family regularly and help them get back on track.
To alleviate rural isolation in an area of Cumbria which no longer has any commercial bus services, The Fellrunner Village Buses are operated and driven by local volunteers for the benefit of their community.
A fun way to help reduce loneliness and isolation, Men’s Sheds are community spaces for men to enjoy a shared activity, usually run by the men that use them. The Men’s Sheds Association was set up 2013 to raise awareness and support a small, but growing number of Men’s Sheds. Back then there were just 30 Men’s Sheds in the UK. Today there are over 400 and an additional 100+ in the pipeline.