Christmas wrappers bring festive cheer to older people living alone


A group of kind-hearted tenants and staff at a housing association have been busy wrapping Christmas presents for older people who live alone.

The nerve centre of the operation is Cartrefi Conwy’s Community House in Chester Avenue, Kinmel Bay, which has been turned into a temporary Santa’s Grotto

They have already wrapped 1,500 presents ready for delivery to senior citizens in the area who’ll be home alone during the festive season.

The Be a Santa to a Senior scheme was started five years ago by the Abergele-based domiciliary care company Home Instead Senior Care.

Staff at Cartrefi Conwy have dug deep to donate gifts including toiletries, dressing gowns, chocolates and jigsaws.

Among those busy wrapping was Cartrefi Conwy tenant, Karen Burrows, who is also a member of the Chester Avenue Community Action Group.

She said: “For me it’s all about community, last week I, and a team of three others, cooked a three course Christmas lunch for 24 members of the Chester Avenue community which was fantastic.

“Wrapping presents is hard but fun work and I think the scheme is a fantastic idea. There are so many older people living alone that are going to benefit. It’s amazing.”

Nerys Veldhuizen, Cartrefi Conwy’s older person’s engagement coordinator also joined in.

She said: “Cartrefi Conwy joined the Be a Santa to a Senior scheme three years ago and we have seen the numbers of gifts donated rise substantially in that time.

“I’ve worked with Home Instead Senior on a number of projects and both organisations are very much involved with Dementia Friendly Abergele.

“The scheme is a great way for senior independent living manager Ceri Twist and myself to get out into the Cartrefi Conwy community where we can help identify tenants that may benefit from a visit and a gift.

“It’s a wonderful way to engage with tenants and meet those that would benefit from any added support.”

She added: “It’s an amazing scheme and very simple. We have spent the day at our community house in Chester Avenue, Kinmel Bay wrapping presents all of which have been donated by members of the public, other companies and Cartrefi Conwy staff.

“People have been so generous and Cartrefi Conwy tenants have given up their time to help wrap gifts ready for delivery.”

According to Lucie Williams, the deputy manager of Home Instead Senior Care the Be a Santa to a Senior scheme has grown from its humble beginnings five years ago.

She said: “Throughout November we have been gathering gifts from members of the public and local companies. The number of gifts this year has exceeded all expectations.

“We wrap them and deliver them to older people who live alone and who we think would benefit as they might not normally have anyone calling. The gifts donated by Cartrefi Conwy staff members has seen the total gifts donated go up to more than 1,500 which is amazing.

“Spending the day at the Chester Avenue community house wrapping gifts alongside Cartrefi Conwy volunteers has been fantastic.  The gifts will be delivered by Cartrefi Conwy, Home instead Senior Care and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

“The senior people we deliver to are referred to us by the Red Cross, Re-engage, which was formerly known as Contact the Elderly, and Age Connect.”

She added: “I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated gifts and to Cartrefi Conwy staff for their donations, support and assistance in wrapping the presents. Even the wrapping paper and Sellotape is donated.

“If it makes older people living alone feel valued then we have done our job. It isn’t so much about the gift as the fact someone has called and had a chat.”

Community House Development Officer Emma Abdelkhalek added: “There are so many older vulnerable people living within our community and if delivering a few gifts make them feel valued and lift’s their spirits then that has to be a good thing.”