SANTA Claus is coming to town on Wednesday 27 November and making a guest appearance at a special Christmas Lunch at the Chaplaincy Centre, 1 Bristo Square, Edinburgh.
The lunch is hosted by eVOLve, the largest student run volunteering group at Edinburgh University, on behalf of a special service run by Scottish charity, Health in Mind.
The service helps people aged 65 and over who are feeling lonely and isolated.
Edinburgh University students volunteer for the service which is called Community Connecting.
It works by helping people over 65, who feel lonely, to find out what’s on in their local community and through the support of volunteers, build up the confidence to get involved.
This time of year, while bringing great joy and happiness to many, also heightens the feelings of loneliness felt by older people living in our communities.
The Christmas Lunch is a way of letting older people know there are people out there who care.
Julie Dick and Alison McGhee are both Health in Mind support and development workers and they have been busy making Santa’s travel arrangements.
“Our youngest students are 18 years of age and our most senior service user is 94 years-old, so the exchange of experiences, as well as wee gifts, normally means Santa has to really shout to be heard!,” said Julie.
Currently, there are 35 volunteers working for the service, with nine of them students from Edinburgh University.
“It’s all too easy to lose your zest for life,” said Alison.
“Some may have lost a partner, suffered from a fall or retired and find it becomes increasingly harder to leave the house.
“Friendships drift and in a relatively short period of time, people can feel they are alone and isolated.
“It’s hard to make new connections in older life and to know what’s going on in your local community.
“Community Connecting volunteers provide the bridge to help people back into a full and meaningful life and they are a reminder that the community spirit is alive and well in Edinburgh.”
Julie and Alison are actively recruiting volunteers from different parts of Edinburgh. Volunteering is open to anyone over 16 years of age willing to complete an one-day training course and then commit to giving a couple of hours of their time every week. Currently, Health in Mind has volunteers from 17 to 85 years of age.
“As the weeks go by, it’s fantastic to see someone’s confidence grow and our volunteers are vital to the success of the service,” said Julie. “It doesn’t take much to change a life, but the benefits are immense.”
The Christmas Lunch is in its third year and Tim Pemberton who helps to run eVOLve commented: “The Christmas party with Health in Mind is our last event of a busy semester and we are glad that they are able to join us again.”
For further information contact:
Doreen Graham, Communications Manager, Health in Mind – 0131 242 0137 (direct) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes for editors
eVolve is a volunteering club for Edinburgh University students who want to volunteer but have no idea where to start. It enables members to try a variety of volunteering activities and meet new friends.
The club meets every Wednesday 1pm (and some Saturdays or Sundays) in the Connect Centre at Potterrow and offers a different volunteering activity each week, like beach clean ups, tree planting and helping at local primary schools. You can find this week’s activity on the eVOLve facebook.
It’s a great way to meet new people, and anyone coming along to more than three sessions in a semester, will be rewarded with a certificate of achievement.
Health in Mind was recently awarded the Investing in Volunteers (IiV) accreditation for the second time for its commitment to the volunteers who make a considerable contribution to the organisation.
Heath in Mind (previously known as Edinburgh Association for Mental Health) was set up in 1982 to take over flats then rented for ex-patients by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Services currently include Supported Accommodation and Respite Care, Counselling, Talking Therapies, Trauma Counselling Line Scotland, two befriending services (re:Discover for under 65s with mental health issues and Community Connection for over 65s experiencing loneliness and isolation) and an Information Resource Centre.
Caption: Santa’s helpers, Alison McGhee and Julie Dick, prepare for the special Christmas lunch.
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