Silverline, the helpline for older people, warned earlier this month that the summer months can be the loneliest time of the year for older people as friends and families depart on holiday. Many churches host ‘Holidays at Home’ over the summer welcoming older people as guests for meals and activities from poetry writing to board games, cookery and outings. We spoke to two schemes in Southwark and Leeds Diocese.
The parish of Mortlake with East Sheen hosts an annual week-long ‘Holiday at Home’ programme every summer for up to 25 guests. Booking forms are circulated to residents throughout the area. The scheme started four years ago and is run by Southwark Pastoral Auxiliaries Melita Massa, Deirdre Munro and Mel Le Vesconte (congregation members from All Saints, Christ Church and St Mary the Virgin). ‘Holiday at Home’ receives funding from The Friends of a local hospital, businesses and charities.
Mel Le Vesconte writes: “The week is open to anyone who is unable to get away for a holiday. Numbers are limited so that everyone can be personally looked after by the team of volunteers. This year’s activities included: a daily quiz, a history talk, board games, music, singing, cookery, flower arranging, armchair exercises and massage. The poetry session, where guests were invited to write their own poem was very popular. Coffee is offered on arrival, a delicious home cooked hot lunch, and tea and cake before going home. We work closely with the local neighbourhood care scheme, FiSH (Fellowship, Independence, Support, Help), who provide the daily bus transport to and from All Saints.”
The ‘Staycation’ holiday club was set up this summer by a group of people taking part in the annual ‘Step Up’ discipleship course run by the rural parishes of Easby, Skeeby, Brompton-on- Swale and Bolton-on-Swale and the parish of Catterick with Tunstall in the Yorkshire Dales. Around 12 people a day attended the four-day programme where they took part in crafts, games, outings and a ‘sing along’ as well as being served lunch and other refreshments daily.
Rev Yvonne Callaghan, Vicar of Easby with Skeeby and Brompton on Swale and Bolton on Swale, writes: “Rev Lindsay Southern, Vicar of Catterick of Tunstall and I have run a year-long discipleship course for the past three years, called ‘Step Up’ and the people taking part at the end of this year said that this was their mission. It has been such a joy and privilege to have taken part in this and we have had some lovely feedback. One woman told us that it was the first time in three months that she had eaten with somebody. The programme was primarily for older people but families could come along and were very welcome. We hope other things will come out of this and are specifically hoping to repeat this at Christmas, Easter and next summer.”
From the Church of England