Christmas is approaching and often we think of it as a time for family, friends and loved ones to come together, but the reality is that for nearly 500,000* older people in the UK the celebrations will be replaced with feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

However, help is on hand! Abbeyfield’s annual Companionship at Christmas campaign is back, offering free festive events, festive cheer and friendship for all who need it.

Many of our homes and houses will open their doors in December and early January to provide meals and seasonal activities to vulnerable and isolated people aged 55 and over, who would otherwise be on their own over the Christmas and New Year period.

We wanted to know what our residents, staff, volunteers and people from local communities who use our services, loved about Christmas at Abbeyfield, so we asked them to tell us their favourite thing about the festive period and what makes it special for them.

  1. This year I've volunteered to work and cook on Christmas day. This gives my lovely team the day off to spend with family and I get the pleasure of seeing all the residents wake up on Christmas Day and get excited about spending time with their family and friends, eating enormous amounts of food accompanied of course by the odd mulled wine or two!
    –Sarah, House Manager at Abbeyfield House, Saffron Park, Devon

  2. Christmas at Johnson House always starts on the 1st December with our Michel’s birthday party. He is 72 this year. Michael is one of Whitehaven’s characters. Following his party, which always goes with a swing, it is a very busy month for us at Johnson House. We have Bridge Club, Games nights on Wednesdays, Tai Chi, entertainment by Pauline Southward and her friends, a carol service with hand-bell ringers, Fit 4 Life with Dougie, Christmas Dinner at a local hotel for all our residents, staff and volunteers, musical therapy, and go to a village primary school to see their Nativity play followed by afternoon tea at Wellington Farm. On the 20th it is our party night, with a buffet, vocalist and a disco, would you believe it? Christmas day is always very special with a visit from Santa.
    -Residents at Johnson House, Whitehaven

  3. My favourite thing is when the little children come and sing to us. That is so lovely and it brings back memories of when I worked at school and getting the shepherds tea towels on their heads. Those children are so sweet. They have Christmas hats and reindeer horns on and they come and talk with us, but they grow up so quickly.
    - Resident at Abbeyfield House, Saffron Park, Devon

  4. We love the excitement of when the decorations go up in house!
    -Julie and Caroline, staff members at Oxenford House

  5. 2018 was my first Christmas at Cunningham House, and I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the Christmas Lunch. It was such a joyous occasion to be joined by committees, friends of the house and staff.
    -Helen, Resident at Cunningham House, Pirbright

  6. I like the Christmas tree decorations on our House Christmas tree, as some of the older ones remind me of the ones we had at home with my family.
    -Resident at Abbeyfield House, Saffron Park, Devon

  7. I started volunteering at Abbeyfield last November, so I was involved in all the Christmas activities, I thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a warm, friendly and sheltered home. It has made me realise how important it is to raise awareness of loneliness in the elderly all year round but more so at this special time of the year. I cannot wait for this year’s festivities to start so we can enjoy ourselves all over again.
    -Carol, Volunteer at The Abbeyfield House, Hadleigh

  8. Christmas at Abbeyfield means – Happiness, a really lively feel in house. Great parties to be had. Very loving atmosphere. It means knowing that you will always have someone to see and talk to. It is like one big family celebration. Everyone is always welcome.The perfect thing you look for at Christmas when you are our age.
    -Marian and Kathleen, Residents at Abbeyfield House, Wallington

  9. For me, it's always been the Christmas message of peace to all on Earth and now being here with all my new friends to share with. I like to go to my local church and give thanks for all I have and hope that others are looked after too.
    -Resident at Abbeyfield House, Saffron Park, Devon

  10. It’s all about the residents. Making their Christmas special, especially when they don’t have any relatives and we are the only family they have. I have a passion outside of work for decorating and events. I am really looking forward to decorating for Christmas with the residents as part of the Festive Doorway Competition. This year we are creating a forest in the reception, and the staff, relatives and local community have been really generous with their donations.
    - Karen, Care Assistant at Pratt House

  11. The lead up to Christmas is important to us as the staff are so caring and make it special for all of us.
    -Ken, Resident at Oxenford House

  12. On Christmas day Father Christmas and Elf bring residents their gifts which get everyone in the festive mood.
    -Dianine, staff member at Oxenford House

  13. I enjoy having company around me at Abbeyfield especially at Christmas; otherwise I would be on my own.
    – Jim, Resident at Privett Farm House

  14. I love receiving a stocking from Father Christmas. I haven't had a stocking on Christmas morning for quite a number of years so it brings back lovely memories!
    -Katie, Resident at Cunningham House, Pirbright

  15. The house is a very happy and jolly place to be especially at that time of year.
    -Rosemary, Resident at Oxenford House

  16. I've been coming to Carols with the Salvation Army at Abbeyfield for a few years now and love this event. The music and singing are fantastic as is the buffet afterwards! Truly the start of Christmas with good cheer and lovely smiles all round.
    Anna, Abbeyfield Reigate Volunteer

  17. I absolutely love Christmas at Abbeyfield, I feel we can push the boat out and have a great time, My favourite is having the local nursery children that come to the home and sing to us, and the residents really enjoy this. Also to be able to help with loneliness at this time of year through promoting companionship at Christmas is amazing this has helped me to realise that Richard Carr- Gomm’s vision was ahead of its time.
    -Tracey, Housekeeper at The Abbeyfield House, Hadleigh

  18. I love the musical entertainment at the party and the visit from Santa! We’ve heard he's been at Dobbie's Garden Centre and just hope he gets some time off to come here! I love the Christmas table as the staff make it look so special. The feeling of Christmas with everyone here is lovely- I've loved it since the day I arrived.
    -Residents at Abbeyfield Dunfermline Seath House and Allister House

  19. I enjoy Christmas at Abbeyfield, I especially enjoy the Christmas bizarre and tea, and we always get a little gift from Abbeyfield. The staff make the home so warm and inviting and decorate the home lovely. It must be sad to be on your own at Christmas.
    -Bob, Resident at The Abbeyfield House, Hadleigh

  20. When we sit together in the lounge and watch the Christmas films, just like we did when my two kids were young. My favourite is it's a Wonderful Life.
    -Resident at Abbeyfield House, Saffron Park, Devon

  21. At Christmas time, there are many things to participate in from Carol Singing, (school children visiting the house and Carol Singers at the door) to our regular scrabble and film afternoons, but the icing on the cake for me is the Christmas lunch, a delicious traditional home-cooked lunch for around 40 people. Lucy always make the guests feel welcome and we all enjoy a chat with residents, and visitors such as gardeners, handymen, members of the House and Executive Committees. Christmas lunch for me epitomises the Abbeyfield ethos - companionship and making time for older people.
    -Nicola, Volunteer at Cunningham House, Pirbright

  22. I love hosting Christmas lunches here at the house; one for Committee, Trustees, Friends of Cunningham House, Residents and Staff; one for Residents and their Sponsors and the Finale on Christmas Day when we invite local people who are on their own on Christmas Day. I also think it's brilliant that my 93 year old resident writes a thank you note to Father Christmas!!
    -Lucy, House Manager at Cunningham House, Pirbright

  23. I really enjoy seeing the residents opening their gifts and eating Christmas lunch together. We try to give the residents a special day to ensure those, especially without families, enjoy their day!
    -Swatsi, member of staff at Oxenford House

  24. It’s a time when staff and residents can all come together and enjoy the festive celebrations here in the house. We have the local school choirs coming in to sing carols. Places like the cubs or brownies, decorating making and many more things. Some of our residents don’t have families near by or any relatives so the events we put on are extra important as this gives them something to look forward to and to try eliminate loneliness especially around the It’s a time when staff and residents can all come together and enjoy the festive celebrations here in the house. We have the local school choirs coming in to sing carols. Places like the cubs or brownies, decorating making and many more things. Some of our residents don’t have families near by or any relatives so the events we put on are extra important as this gives them something to look forward to and to try eliminate loneliness especially around the Christmas season.
    - Emma, Senior Houskeeper at Abbeyfield House, Ivybridge

We believe that no one should be alone at Christmas so if you, or someone you know, would be interested in taking part in activities and events in some of our houses would like to find out more about our Companionship at Christmas campaign, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us on 01727 734144.

* Figure taken from Age UK.


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