Charity overcomes Covid to bring Christmas cheer


Christmas Parcel Project packers

Nearly ninety local residents enjoyed a surprise Christmas treat, when volunteers from a local charity delivered the presents of either a hamper or a potted plant to them in their homes.


Organised by Ilkley and District Good Neighbours, the Christmas Parcel Project. which began some 25 years ago, has always brought an annual touch of seasonal good cheer to a number of the area’s older and less able residents; some of whom might feel lonely and isolated during the festive period.


“Will we be able to do it or not?”, said Ilkley Good Neighbours Trustee and Christmas Parcels Co-ordinator, Ed Duguid. “At this particularly tough time for everyone and certainly for some of the older members of our community, we all agreed we had to find a way to deliver the annual Christmas Parcels and bring a smile to their faces”. So, volunteers of Ilkley Good Neighbours, with the help of other local organisations in the town, set about making new arrangements to overcome the potential difficulties of delivering during the Covid Pandemic


Sadly one of the highlights of this annual Christmas event wasn’t possible this year due to COVID restrictions. In previous years students from Ilkley Grammar have accompanied the volunteers and helped hand over the parcels.


“It was unfortunate that the students couldn’t be there to help on this occasion, but we hope to welcome them back next year”, said Ed. “The recipients always enjoy seeing them at Christmas”.


Ilkley Good Neighbours Chairperson Penny Coulthard added: “Christmas can be a challenging time as we know for some of our older residents and this annual event is just one of the ways we as a charity can support them and let them know that they haven’t been forgotten.


“It’s always heart-warming to see their reaction when we arrive at their doors with a gift. And it was equally important this year that they had the opportunity to meet our brilliant volunteers and have a chat with them. Many of the volunteers have been delivering shopping or making weekly befriending calls to these residents for many months, but in some cases hadn’t actually seen the older people face to face”


One of the residents said: “Thank you so much for the bag of goodies. Not only will this give me enjoyable sustenance but it has already given me a spiritual lift and boost, knowing you are there with friendship, love and support”


Preparing and organising the Christmas Parcels Project is a major operation which begins several months prior to the actual event itself and involves a range of voluntary organisations and community groups.


The charity wishes to thank the following local organisations for supporting the Christmas Parcels project: both the Rotary Clubs in Ilkley, who provided the funding for this year’s event; Ben Rhydding Lodge supported by the rest of Ilkley Freemasons, who again lent the charity their hall for the final parcel packing and distribution; members of the Rotary Club of Ilkley Wharfedale who also provided some of the delivery drivers; Booths, who provided and helped assemble some of the key parcel contents, TESCO who provided free boxes of mince pies and Aldi for their free Christmas cakes. And Home Instead, a local care provider, who donated an Activity Book, which should help keep people amused over the festive period.


In addition the charity is grateful to Ilkley Community Transport who delivered the contents of the parcels to the hall on the day.


“We would also like to thank the charity’s own volunteers and trustees who helped pack and deliver the parcels or plants, “said Ed. “ It was once again a true community team Christmas effort by all!”


Ilkley and District Good Neighbours is an independent local charity running a number of projects aimed at supporting older and less able people living independently. The schemes, which are all free, include Befriending, Shop Assist and Moving On, along with special events such as day trips and advice sessions.

If you want to know more about Ilkley and District Good Neighbours and the work they do in the community, or to ask about volunteer work, go to www.goodneighboursilkley.org.uk

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