Christmas has been and gone, but the voluntary sector in Wales was busy throughout the holidays.
To showcase just a snapshot of the incredible work the sector as a whole does over Christmas, we’ve spoken to three organisations working in health and care who told us about what they did to help people over the festive period.
‘At Christmas, when the private sector starts winding down, at The Wallich things ramp up. It’s an incredibly busy time for us during the festive season, not only because of the weather and low temperatures but also because people suddenly become more aware of the plight of homelessness. It’s like people who didn’t think about it before, suddenly realise that not everybody has a home. While they’re doing their shopping, the upsetting presence of people on our streets seems to affect everyone differently.
‘At The Wallich, we never close – we continue to do outreach in all weathers and on every day of the year. We were out doing our breakfast rounds nice and early, making sure everyone had what they need to get through the day. We made a lot of effort to ensure everybody had a hot Christmas dinner to look forward to and we saw local businesses be beautifully generous.
‘For people in temporary accommodation, Christmas can be a time of dwelling and sadness – not on our watch! Our residential projects had a whole program of brilliant activities, ranging from Christmas crafts to hot chocolate evenings.
‘Although Christmas is over, you can still get involved in our winter campaign. Get more information here.’
Dr Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, CEO, The Wallich
THE SALVATION ARMY
‘The Salvation Army has lots of activity in the run up to Christmas. We had the annual Toy Appeal where the public donated new toys and gifts for children whose families cannot put food on the table, heat their homes or pay their bills. Those presents were distributed across Wales in the week before Christmas. In North Wales, handmade socks were provided for prisoners in Berwyn Prison and across Wales many centres were offering warm clothing (jumpers, coats, hats and gloves) to those in need.
‘Many of our churches and community centres across Wales provided a Christmas Dinner on 25 December for those that might be alone or in need. For anyone in need of a food hamper, these were provided in volume in many towns and cities across Wales, along with help with gas and electricity. Most of our community centres were being opened on at least a weekly basis as Warm Hubs, whilst also providing practical assistance and promoting social inclusion.’
Sarah Jefferies, Regional Manager Wales and the South West, The Salvation Army
‘With the extra pressure that the festive season can bring, our worries and fears may seem worse. It’s important people check in on themselves and look after their wellbeing. They may be feeling like they aren’t enjoying the things they usually do. They may be worried about friends and family or other things happening in the world. There are all sorts of reasons they might find this time of year difficult and that’s OK.
‘Samaritans Cymru volunteers were available to talk to throughout Christmas, online and via email, in English and Welsh.
‘We also put together a free guide for anyone struggling to cope in Wales, called Finding your Way. This guide is for anyone, whether you’ve noticed a dip in your wellbeing, are feeling lonely or isolated or are feeling suicidal and in crisis.’
Emma Gooding, Policy and Communications Manager, Samaritans Cymru