Gift appeal hopes to build on success of John Lewis ad to help the lonely this Christmas

Stacey Crowther and  Kyrie Ennis from Gift for Granny.''Picture by Simon Hulme
Stacey Crowther and Kyrie Ennis from Gift for Granny.''Picture by Simon Hulme
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AN APPEAL which aims to ensure that people in care homes don’t go without a gift at Christmas is hoping that this year’s emotional John Lewis advert will inspire more people to help them help others this festive season.

This is the third Christmas that Huddersfield-based Little Group has ran the Gift for Granny appeal, after its managing director was struck by the loneliness of some of the people she met in Yorkshire’s care homes.

Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, aka Andy Sugden, delivering presents to Mary Cafferty at Ashworth Grange Care Home in Dewsbury, as part of Gift for Granny in 2014.''Picture Scott Merrylees

Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher, aka Andy Sugden, delivering presents to Mary Cafferty at Ashworth Grange Care Home in Dewsbury, as part of Gift for Granny in 2014.''Picture Scott Merrylees

From relatively small beginnings in 2012, last year the appeal collected and distributed 1,200 gifts across West Yorkshire in Huddersfeld, Batley and Dewsbury, and York, and this year hopes to double that amount.

Stacey Crowther, founder of Gift for Granny, hopes this year’s John Lewis advert, which has been created with Age UK to draw attention to the stark statistics that over one million older people haven’t spoken to a friend, family neighbour or family member for over a month, will inspire people to buy an extra gift for an older person who may otherwise go without this Christmas.

She said: “Having worked with older people for many years, I’ve seen first-hand how a visit or a phone call can mean the difference between a good day or a very lonely one.

“For many, the annual John Lewis Christmas advert signals the unofficial start of the Christmas season, so I’m delighted to see that a national retailer is willing to use its profile to help put an end to social isolation this year.

“We’ve already seen a big increase in interest for the Gift For Granny appeal since the Man On The Moon advert went live, particular on social media, so I hope that if people have been touched by the advert, they will go shopping this weekend and put an extra gift in their basket.

“We have a number of drop off points for donations right across Yorkshire and will ensure that presents go right to the heart of where they are needed most.”

Last year, the Yorkshire Post highlighted Gift for Granny as part of the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign.

The campaign, launched in February 2014, aims to raise awareness of loneliness as a health priority. More than 90,000 older people in Yorkshire say they are lonely most or all of the time, and loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, while also contributing to dementia and high blood pressure.

This year Gift for Granny hopes to distribute gifts further into North Yorkshire and the north east, and is appealing for businesses to act as drop off centres for donations.

People willing to donate a gift can already drop them off at sites across Leeds, York, Hebden Bridge and Huddersfield, and volunteers are also need to help wrap gifts.

Last year, Gift for Granny was assisted in dropping off gifts by celebrity helpers, Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher and Coronation Street star Alan Halsall.

Miss Crowther said: “Last year we had a manic couple of weeks delivering gifts, but to see the reactions of the people we gave them to made every minute worthwhile.

“Care homes can be very busy at Christmas time, with families visiting some of the residents, but if you do not have any family it can very isolating. The staff do a fantastic job but taking the time out to sit and chat with someone, and offering a gift, can make a massive difference.

“Last year we visited 40 care homes across Yorkshire and the north east, and this year we want to build on that.”

For more information on how to donate visit www.giftforgranny.co.uk. If you are an individual or business owner who would like to act as a drop off centre for donations please email stacey@little-group.co.uk.

Recognition for Friendship Lunches

A North Yorkshire PR firm that worked with the Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness campaign to devise a new Friendship Lunch to help isolated connect with those around them has been nominated for an award.

Absolutely Food is in the running for the Community Relations Campaign award at the PRide Awards, organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).