For some elderly people, Christmas in a care home can be a lonely time without visits from family and friends, with memories of happier times providing a cruel reminder of their isolation.
But struck by the plight of some of the people she met in Yorkshire care homes, a Huddersfield businesswoman last year decided to do what she could to change that, by collecting gifts for elderly people who would otherwise receive no presents at Christmas.
Gift for Granny was set up by Stacey Crowther, managing director of care compliance and recruitment company The Little Group. Last year it delivered 400 presents to care homes in Huddersfeld, Batley and Dewsbury, and this year hopes to deliver even more, expanding across the region to York, Halifax, and even as far as the North East.
Miss Crowther said: “I’ve met residents who have lived happy and fulfilled lives but for some reason or another don’t have their family around them. Care homes can be lonely places, and Christmas can be a particularly lonely time.
“Last year we heard some really heartfelt stories from people who hadn’t had a gift in years. It was quite sad at times.
“Although care home staff do a fantastic job, and put in a real effort to try to give residents a wonderful Christmas, they told us that personal touch of being given a gift meant the world to them. Even spending ten minutes with someone, sitting down, and talking, watching them open their gifts, it lifted them massively.
“At this time of year, you get a lot of problems with people’s moods in care homes, when the decorations go up, it can be a painful reminder of them being in their own home.”
Deliveries of gifts last Christmas were made mainly by The Little Group, but this year they hope to recruit volunteers to help wrap and give out gifts in homes across Yorkshire.
The appeal is also asking for donations of new, unwrapped gifts, that would be appropriate for the older people.
“We’re collecting anything from books and slippers to toiletries and biscuits. Last year, sherry was particularly popular!” Miss Crowther said. “We work with care homes to make sure we give the right gifts to the right people.
“Last year we were overwhelmed with the response the appeal had. We’d expected to collect around 50 gifts but in total had around 400. People were so generous we realised we could make it much bigger this year.”
Gift for Granny has been supported by Ideal Care Homes, which runs homes across Yorkshire, including Ashworth Grange in Dewsbury.
Paula Whiteley, manager of Ashworth Grange, said: “Quite a lot of our residents don’t have much family, and they do get lonely, especially at Christmas.
“The residents were elated to receive a gift. Some were quite overwhelmed and even got a bit weepy. It was lovely that someone else was thinking of them.”
Gift for Granny has ten drop off centres across Leeds, York, Huddersfield, Mablethorpe and in the North East.
It is still looking for businesses to act as drop off centres and volunteers to help wrap and distribute gifts. To register a venue, find out more, or to volunteer to help Gift for Granny, contact Kyrie Ennis on by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 962020.
For more information visit www.giftforgranny.co.uk