charity, Community News, Volunteers, walderslade together, walt

WALT’s amazing Christmas

walt thank you

We love our Walties!

2019 has proven to be the most fulfilling Christmas and New Year period at the hub to date.

A quick snapshot of what has been achieved by WALT would show:

  • 2 groups of at least 5 people supported in Christmas shopping.
  • 2 Christmas parties arranged and attended by over 20 people at each venue in Lords Wood and Walderslade.
  • 4 Christmas Day food hampers and gifts were provided to families in desperate need.
  • Toys/Gifts were provided to families for 20 children, whilst others were shared with local churches and preschool groups for children in need, linked to their services.
  • 100 gift bags containing handmade gifts, chocolate oranges and cards were distributed across ME5 to those who are socially isolated and / or are members of WALT.
  • A Christmas Day box filled with clothes for 1 person with very little of their own.
  • On Christmas Day, 6 members were visited, invited to lunch under the share-a-chair initiative or supported to have Christmas Dinner at Pip & Jim’s Church.
  • 20 people – who would otherwise have been alone – enjoyed a Boxing Day brunch here at the hub.

WALT also hosted a Christmas meal for their amazing volunteers and presented gifts to show how much their love and support is appreciated at Christmas, and indeed, throughout the year.

This is all possible thanks to the generosity of everyone who donated food, clothing, their craft skills and so much more.

The Net couldn’t achieve what it does without WALT, and we’re delighted that we are able to support them in their endeavours. This is thanks to the support that we get from funders, who last year included Kent Community Foundation (continuing for another two years), Magic Little Grant, the Kent Messenger, the Co-op and the National Lottery.

Here’s to 2020!

Activities, charity, Community News, Funding, fundraising, kent messenger, Volunteers, walt

An eventful year comes to a close

What a year it’s been for us, here at the Net!

With fundraising events, successful bids and an ever-strengthening partnership with Walderslade Together, we’re looking forward to consolidating our offer to the residents of Walderslade and Lords Wood as we enter 2020.

A huge part of our success is down to our fantastic Walties – the volunteers engaged by Walderslade Together who support so many local people. Whether it’s shopping, taking to hospital appointments or just chatting to them, our volunteers tirelessly give their time and energy to making peoples’ lives better.

To say thank you, we held a special Christmas dinner for them last week.

Our Arts & Crafts Club has been given a boost by volunteer Cat, and the new Brainstormz! support group is run by Sue, a dream to make happen she’s had for a long time.

If you would like to become a volunteer at the hub, and start an activity group or support session for something you’re passionate about, drop into any of our sessions, email Jaye via community@waldersladehub.org, or call us on 01634 319633.

To find out more about the volunteering opportunities with WALT, contact Sharon via volunteer@waltcic.org.uk.

A huge thank you to the Coop, with their community fund netting us the awesome amount of £6,378.94, and to the KM Group for their support as Charity of the Year, for the Medway Messenger this year. And, of course, to the Kent Community Foundation for their ongoing support, which culminated in them awarding us core funding for the next three years.

We’re also indebted to The National Lottery and Magic Little Grants, whose support enables us to do so much more.

Here’s to 2020!

Activities

Christmas and New Year Openings at the Hub

Merry Xmas!

We are open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (24th and 31st respectively) however, activities will be a little bit different.

Monday 24th December: Free Open Cafe 10am-12noon

Tuesday 25th December: Closed

Wednesday 26th December: WALT’s Boxing Day Buffet 10am-2pm

Thursday 27th December: Free Open Cafe 10am-1pm

Friday 28th/ Saturday 29th/ Sunday 30th: Closed

Monday 31st December: Free Open Cafe 10am-12noon

Tuesday 1st January: Free Open Cafe 10am-2pm

Wednesday 2nd January: Free Open Cafe 10am-2pm

Thursday 3rd January: Pip’n’Jim’s Free Open Cafe and Foodbank as usual.

Resources, Support Services

All I Want For Christmas Is Company

 

The Net Community Hub WALT Walderslade

Volunteer Christina Lee takes a look at the facts and figures behind Age UK’s recent advert and pinpoints why resources such as ourselves and Walderslade Together are so vital for our local community.

In Age UK‘s recent film ‘Just Another Day’, we see a pensioner living on his own and repeating the same routine throughout the year – get up, walk to the store, buy food, watch TV – until Christmas day, which he had forgotten about until he reached the store and saw that it was closed, covered in snow. This heart-breaking film made me think of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure’s Christmas classic Do They Know It’s Christmas? ’, written for the victims of the Ethiopian famine in 1984, and I wonder how many older people in the UK today don’t know it’s Christmas until the shops close. Even if they do know it’s Christmas, so what? Christmas just passes them by.

Both my surviving grandmothers live overseas, and I feel incredible guilt every year that I can’t spend the occasion with them. I find consolation in knowing that they have great friends and other family members to look after them and that thanks to social media, I can video-chat them provided I work out the time differences correctly. But unfortunately for millions of older people in the UK and around the world, who have lost their spouse, can’t contact their family or have no children, things are a lot grimmer.

A Harsh Reality

In an article from The Independent published three months ago, older people report that they are forced to choose between either food or warmth, with many choosing to cut back on food or ‘go for a couple of days without food’ because of the heating costs. With the UK set to see the ‘snowiest winter’ for 27 years this year amid cuts in social care services and inflation in food prices, older people are facing especially tough challenges this Christmas.

According to Kent Community Foundation, the cold winter is likely to have a devastating impact on older people’s health, particularly with underlying circulatory or respiratory conditions, or over 75 years old.

  • Approx. 10% of those aged 65 years and over say they feel lonely all or most of the time – this equates to around 52,300 people in Kent and Medway
  • One in eight households in Kent is occupied by a pensioner living on their own.
  • 64,000 households (1 in 11) in Kent/Medway are affected by fuel poverty.
  • 10% of fuel poor households contain a person over the age of 75
  • There were 630 “excess” winter deaths in the Kent (2014-15) and 312 Medway (2014-15).

[From Kent Community Foundation Surviving Winter]

A Cuppa with Company

Loneliness is the new social epidemic of our age and a major contributing factor to mental health problems such as depression. Older people with long-term conditions like dementia are even more likely to experience loneliness and depression because of the social isolation that the illness brings. Even though loneliness might not sound like a serious illness, when older people live on their own without social interaction, they are more likely to have falls, have ill health, and suffer strokes or heart attacks because there is no one to catch the symptoms. Loneliness can kill.

Of course, loneliness doesn’t simply come from living alone. Even those living in care homes or assisted living facilities may experience loneliness despite being around people and some studies have found that care home residents actually feel twice as lonely as older people living the community. This goes to show that being alone isn’t the same feeling alone. Indeed, many retired folks love the idea of finally having time for themselves after the children start their own families. We should be celebrating independence and freedom in later life by providing the support and resources that older people need in order to live well without patronising them or compromising their freedom.

To ask for ‘help’ or ‘charity’ can feel humiliating and the stigma around old age can sometimes mean that older people ‘put up’ with the cold and the hunger because they ‘don’t want to bother their family’. There are ways to offer support without making older people feel ‘weak’ or ‘useless’.

  • Be a Friend

According to a study of what older people consider a ‘good life’, one of central things that make ‘ageing well’ is relationships that meet needs for intimacy, comfort, support, companionship, and fun. Simply being a friend to an older neighbour and making them feel included as part of the community can make a big difference, whether that is sharing Christmas dinners, going to the markets, or just having a cup of tea and a chat together. Being a friend also means paying attention to their needs, heating, food, access (e.g. icy footpaths) and health, seeking advice should you notice any causes for concern.

  • Volunteer

The Royal Voluntary Service Kent and Medway relies on volunteers to offer support older people to maintain their independence and Age UK Medway has also been running a Befriending service for older residents to help them stay connected with the community. You can support organisations like Involve, who arrange Christmas dinners for older local residents, or Community Christmas, who run Christmas events for the community and provide guidance for those who with new ideas. They also have an events listing for older people and volunteers searching for something to do this Christmas. Contact the Elderly also runs tea parts for older people regularly, not just at Christmas. Or you can check out Medway’s Volunteer Centre to what kind of volunteering works for you. And of course, Walderslade Together are our resident befrienders, running the open cafe all through Christmas week with the invaluable help of volunteers.

  • Donate

If you are feeling festive and generous, feel free to donate however much you can to Age UK Medway or Kent Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter Campaign to keep vital care and support services running. Alternatively, you can send those fifth pair of oversized socks you got from Secret Santa at work to Age UK’s charity shops to make space for next year’s wardrobe for a good cause. WALT also have a Just Giving page set up to enable more sessions to take place.

Other resources

Ways to Keep Active (AgeUK)

Keep Warm, Keep Well (NHS Choices)

Feeling well and overcoming loneliness (Royal Voluntary Service)

Advice for Older People and their families and neighbours (Be Winter Ready)

Activities

Christmas with The Net and WALT

Thanks to the lovely ladies at WALT, the Hub will be open right across Christmas for folks to drop in for hot refreshments and mince pies.

If you’re on your own, our community is hugely welcoming and there are lots of opportunities to make new friends.

While donations will be welcome, the cafe and mince pie sessions will be FREE! Check out all the dates below:

Christmas with The Net and WALT