For most people, the festive season would not be complete without the exciting arrival of Christmas cards from friends and family extending good wishes and holiday cheer.
But for many older people, Christmas can be a very lonely time without correspondence or contact.
Leabank Care Home, in Ballycastle, part of the Macklin Care Homes Group, is celebrating their Age NI partnership, with the creation of an inspirational, seasonal art project to help connect people in a meaningful way.
The Christmas card making project will see the residents of the all the Macklin Group of care homes, located in Ballycastle, Belfast, Dunmurry, Coleraine and Magherafelt create personalized hand-made cards for the users of the Age NI Day Centres, Anna House and the Skainos Centre.
The Day Centre users will return the good wishes by creating cards for the residents in the Macklin Care homes, meaning no one will have no one this Christmas.
Gareth Macklin, Director of the Macklin Care Homes, said: “Loneliness is a real issue that negatively impacts older people in many ways.
“At this time of year, the feeling of isolation can be amplified, so we decided to ramp up our partnership with Age NI to facilitate all our residents and their Day Centre users to be active participants in addressing the issue of loneliness.
“Over our 30 years providing first-class care for older people, we have found art therapy to be extremely beneficial both mentally and physically.
“Creating art is calming and promotes positive interactions with other residents. It creates a sense of pride and achievement which boosts mental wellbeing.
“Our Christmas card making project will encourage participants to get into the festive spirit. This fun project will create a sense of purpose, with each group helping the other.
“Through this event, we will strive to make sure no one will have no one thinking about them this Christmas.”
The project was created to support Age NI’s awareness and fundraising campaign to ensure older people do not feel alone over the festive season.
Nadine Campbell, Head of Fundraising for Age NI explains;
“The true spirit of Christmas is not about the present under the tree, but those present around it,”
“But many older people, due to changing life circumstances, won’t experience the joy of spending time with loved ones over the festive season, leaving them feeling isolated and alone.
“There are more than 2.5 million older people who have no one to turn to for help and support. Many of them will be alone this Christmas. That’s when the work of Age NI is vital. We provide a lifeline for the vulnerable through support, advice and just being there to talk and listen.
“Macklin Care Homes’ Christmas card making project will be really enjoyable for every participant. It’s also an example to everyone of how even simple actions can make a huge difference to people who feel desperately lonely. Receiving a card proves someone is thinking about them, and they are cared for. That is the best gift you can give anyone at Christmas.”
If you are concerned about an older person, or you want advice and information on staying independent, call the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575, or you can donate online at http://www.ageni.org