Bristol Sport Foundation launches #ChristmasPresence campaign

Bristol Sport Foundation has launched a festive campaign to help tackle loneliness in older people over the Christmas period.

The new initiative, #ChristmasPresence – in partnership with St Monica Trust and LinkAge Bristol - aims to raise awareness of isolation and loneliness among older people in the community, encouraging people to help, support or just accompany those in their family, or neighbourhood, who need it the most.

A 2016 study by Age UK found that 3.5 million people in the UK aged 65+ live alone, while 1.2 million people aged 65+ are classed as persistently or chronically lonely. *

Around 360,000 older people go more than a week without having a conversation with friends or family, while 200,000 go more than a month without social interaction.

The campaign is aligned with the Bristol Sport Foundation’s Golden Memories programme, which aims targets people aged 55+ living with dementia, social isolation or loneliness.

Chief community officer, Ben Breeze, said: “Christmas Presence is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the issues of loneliness, social isolation and those living with dementia.

“These issues are particularly prevalent at Christmas time and we are delighted to join forces with our professional clubs – and St Monica Trust and LinkAge Bristol – to make a real difference over the festive period.

“Throughout the year, Bristol Sport Foundation and its partner charities deliver a range of provision for people over the age of 55, including our Golden Memories programme – for people living with dementia, loneliness or social isolation - and along our walking sports provision, which has grown throughout the year and is developing rapidly.

“We encourage anyone who could benefit from the programmes to get in touch with us.”

Golden Memories programme manager, Kris Tavender, said: “Christmas Presence is a tremendous opportunity to really change the Christmas of hundreds, if not thousands of older people across Bristol.

“Over the last two years, we have developed our Golden Memories programme with Sporting Memories Network to target some of the most vulnerable members of our immediate neighbourhood.

“Now, with the help of our professional sports teams and with the backing of our amazing fans, we can ALL take a look around us and see where a festive smile, a Christmas card and a few minutes of our time this December can really make the difference across the greater Bristol area.”

A memory capture session as part of the Golden Memories programme (JMP UK).

St Monica Trust’s Community Development Manager, Debbie Wills, said: “Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year if you are on your own and the Trust is delighted to be supporting the Christmas Presence campaign.

“The community development team has been running a successful befriending service for older people in south Bristol for a number of years now.

“However, we realise that we are just touching the tip of the iceberg with regards to tackling social isolation and working in partnership with the Bristol Sport Foundation is a great opportunity to raise the awareness of this issue.”

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from Bristol Sport Foundation's Golden Memories programme, or the range of walking sports being delivered by its partner charities - Bristol City Community Trust, Bristol Rugby Community Foundation, Bristol Flyers Community or Bristol Jets Community - please get in touch using the details below:

Walking football - geoff.stevens@bcfc.co.uk  
Walking Rugby - ktavender@Bristolrugby.co.uk
Walking badminton - claire.buckingham@bristol-sport.co.uk
Walking netball - lynn.giles@bristol-sport.co.uk

*statistics via of Age UK

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