Staff swap secret Santa for gift appeal to help care home lonely

More than ninety elderly people in Orchard Care Homes across Yorkshire, without family or friends this Christmas, will receive Christmas gifts thanks to staff at first direct bank in Leeds.
More than ninety elderly people in Orchard Care Homes across Yorkshire, without family or friends this Christmas, will receive Christmas gifts thanks to staff at first direct bank in Leeds.
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More than 90 elderly people without family or friends this Christmas will receive gifts thanks to the generosity of staff at a Leeds-based bank.

Orchard Care Homes, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has received donated gifts from First Direct employees for the past three years to ensure that those not expecting visitors on Christmas day will not feel lonely or forgotten. By the end of Christmas 2015, over 250 residents across homes from Sheffield in the south, up to Thirsk in the north, will have received gifts through the partnership with the bank.

In the place of a Secret Santa activity within the head office, First Direct employees draw a name from a list that has been provided by Orchard Care Homes.

This year the list holds names of more than ninety elderly residents from over 17 care homes in the region, who have been identified by care home managers as having no planned visitors for the festive season.

First Direct employees then pick a name and buy, wrap and address their gift ready for delivery by the care group.

Tracey Tomlinson, head of customer experience at Orchard Care Homes said: “Whilst we have plenty of special events and activities within our homes at this time of year, it can be more lonely for those who do not have family and friends nearby, and First Direct employees are having a direct impact on the happiness and wellbeing of many of our residents. We’re very thankful.”

Karen Walker, customer service director at First Direct said: “At First Firect, we’re like one big family – we really care about our people and our customers. It’s great to see that our people feel so passionately about this that they want to take this beyond our office walls and make a real difference to those in need.”

The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness since February 2014. This winter, we have once again highlighted the work of a gift appeal that works to ensure that no one in a Yorkshire care home goes without this Christmas.

Read more about Gift for Granny here.