A dinner date will help reach out to Wearsiders who would otherwise be lonely this Christmas.
While many are making plans to join in parties and lunches throughout the festive period, there will be many who will not see another soul during the holiday.
We always ensure that as many lonely older people as possible get to spend Boxing Day with us and enjoy the festivities.Alan Patchett, Age UK Sunderland
Figures released by Age UK estimate that there 1.2 million older people in the UK who will be lonely this Christmas.
To combat the feeling of isolation, the organisation’s branch in Sunderland is opening its doors on Boxing Day to be that festive friend that many older people in the city need this Christmas.
A gathering of 37 older people will be treated to a two-course traditional Christmas lunch, with carols and Christmas games.
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.
“We always ensure that as many lonely older people as possible get to spend Boxing Day with us and enjoy the festivities.
“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. “A special thank you to Station Taxis who are making sure that many older people across Sunderland get to us on the day, as transport is a key issue for those who are socially isolated in the city.”
The taxi firm is among the event’s sponsors, along with Thomas Watson Surveyors, Peter Dodd Funeral Directors and Nat West Bank.
Age UK is not the only organisation reaching out with a dinner invite this Christmas.
St Mary’s Church in Bridge Street in the city centre will be open from noon until 2pm and serving up free Christmas lunches in its parish hall to anyone lonely or in need.
Father Marc Lyden-Smith, who leads the congregation, said: “Many nice Sunderland people have offered help and donations, and the churches are working together to make sure no one will be lonely on Christmas Day. “Homeless people, asylum seekers, refugees, those alone, international students who can’t afford to go home, and anyone else have been invited to this lunch.”
Anyone who would like more information about the Age UK Sunderland event can call (0191) 514 1131.
St Mark’s Community Church, in St Mark’s Terrace, off Hylton Road, Millfield, is also open between noon and 2pm, with free Christmas lunches to be served.
The event has been organised in association with GoodFillas cafe, and guests will also be given a Christmas gift donated by GoodFillas staff and customers.
Food has been donated by local businesses Pallion Fruiterers, Proper Roast and Meat Direct.