PENSIONERS spending Christmas alone are being invited to a special seasonal celebration.
Age UK Sunderland is opening its doors on Boxing Day in a bid to be a “festive friend” to lonely elderly residents across Wearside.
A 35-strong party will be held at the charity’s city centre venue, where they will be treated to a slap-up, two-course traditional Christmas lunch.
The day will be topped off with carols, games and a visit from Santa.
Alan Patchett, director at Age UK Sunderland, said: “Spending Christmas alone is often a reality for too many older people in Sunderland, and life circumstances and ill health can often lead to many older people being socially isolated.”
Alan said that although Christmas was an exciting time for families, many isolated pensioners would not see anyone over the festive period.
Figures released by Age UK estimate that about one million older people across the country regularly go an entire month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
“We always ensure that as many lonely older people as possible get to spend Boxing day with us and enjoy the festivities,” said Alan. “However, as a charity we rely on the help of our volunteers and organisations in the city, to ensure we have the funds to make the day special.
“We would like to thank all the local Sunderland people and organisations who have donated money and gifts to the lunch this year.”
Businesses supporting the event include John Hogg Funeral Directors, which is helping to fund it, and Station Taxis, which is providing transport for guests.
Staff from Fusion Call Centre have also prepared food hampers and presents.
Other supporters include Scanlans Solicitors, Sunderland Carpet Centre and Sybil Gibson.