Tameside Council is linking communities to help older people combat loneliness.
Council staff helped organise a Christmas party funded and hosted by Kerry Foods Hyde that saw 35 older people and carers gather for a sumptuous spread.
A new report published by the Jo Cox Commission has called for the Government to create a national strategy to combat loneliness, saying it’s as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and affects nine million UK people.
But Tameside Council’s Public Health Team is already working to tackle the problem with a Campaign to End Loneliness. As part of this, Partner agencies were invited to hold older people’s day activities in October, which inspired Kerry Foods to arrange the Christmas event, including a quiz and games at the food manufacturer and supplier’s Godley Hill Road premises on December 14. It was a real team effort with Kerry Foods, the Council, New Charter, Age UK and other partner agencies bringing everyone together. Kerry Foods also offered to arrange transport and handed out gift bags, while staff dressed up in Christmas outfits.
Mayor Councillor Joyce Bowerman attended and the choir from Hyde’s Oakfield Primary School charmed guests by singing carols and their own songs, led by Caroline Ratcliffe from Tameside Music Service.
Brenda Warrington, executive member for adult social care and wellbeing said: “This is a business that wants to support our older people in the community and we would like to thank Kerry Foods and encourage other businesses to support our campaign to end loneliness in any way they can. This time of year can be particularly lonely for some people but we want to support people all year round - It’s about getting people out, reducing isolation with everyone coming together and having a good time.”
Georgie Eaton, from Kerry Foods, said: “We wanted to arrange a Christmas party to give something back. It’s a big thing, people who are lonely and don’t get to go out and meet people.
“It’s been great. The children were amazing to say they have never sung outside of school in a choir before. They did a fantastic job and everyone really enjoyed their performance.”
Kerry Foods is hoping to organise a similar event next year.
Eric Kenny, from Droylsden, cares for his wife Carol who is living with dementia.
He said: “It’s hard work being a carer 24 hours a day. It’s quite tiring doing all the cooking, washing and shopping and you feel stuck indoors.
“The Christmas party has been fantastic and there should be more things like this. I’m very glad they have done it and we really appreciate it.”
The couple also attend Forget Me Not Buddies Club for people with dementia, which began six weeks ago. There are 36 members who meet every Monday at St Mary’s Church Hall, Market Street, Denton with entertainment including singers, armchair exercises, quizzes, arts and craft, bingo and outings for bowling, pantos and meals.
The Council is calling for other businesses to get involved with further events - You can contact Angela Wild on 0161 342 3477 to see how you can help.
IT was a trip down memory lane for three former colleagues returning to their workplace 50 years later.
Theresa Halligan worked at the Godley Hill Road site half a century ago when it was Walls, before being taken over by Kerry Foods.
She was delighted to return for the Christmas party. The 80-year-old said: “It’s changed a lot but it’s brilliant to come back. It’s been fantastic and we really appreciate what they’ve done for us.”
Theresa praised Tameside Council’s efforts to help prevent loneliness.
She added: “You’re sat in your flat looking at the four walls and want things to go out to. For me it was a problem until I moved to independent living accommodation in Dukinfield, which is fantastic with a communal lounge where everyone gets together. I lived on my own before and was quite isolated.
“I think there should be more things like this. We have enjoyed talking to people we didn’t know before from different schemes. “
Theresa worked part-time at Walls for a couple of years weighing and packing bacon before becoming a teacher at Broad Oak Infants School in Ashton. She said: “It was a brilliant place to work.”
Doreen Wheatley also lives in the independent living accommodation in Dukinfield and worked at Walls 50 years ago as a wages clerk.
The 77-year-old said: “I loved working here. It’s been a lovely event. It’s brought back a lot of memories. There should be more events like this.”
Sheila Renney, from Mottram, worked between 1964 and 1968 sealing bacon at Walls.
The 70-year-old said: “It was fantastic being a crowd of young girls all together. This has brought back memories.”
Sheila is the chair of St Mary’s Friendship Club in Newton and works with Ambition for Ageing to help bring communities together.
She added: “Isolation is a big problem but the Christmas party has been fantastic.”
The Council is calling for other businesses to get involved with further events to help end loneliness - You can contact Angela Wild on 0161 342 3477 to see how you can help.