CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Season can be challenging for the lonely

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001

I love the Christmas season in Eastbourne.

Whether it is Neon Noel, the Bandstand Christmas Market, Meads Magic, BoHoHo or indeed the many other community events that take place, the town is always buzzing with the anticipation of the season.

This year is no different, and my diary is already bursting with carol services and markets and my festive favourite - the nursery nativity!

But, for some of us – and for many reasons – Christmas can be a challenging time that brings into sharper focus feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Bereavement is one of those challenges.

At an advent service this week at Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop made mention of Jo Cox.

Her family will experience their first Christmas without their mother, wife, daughter.

Locally, St Wilfrid’s Light of Love Service on Sunday brought people together to remember their loved ones, their names adorning the very beautiful tree.

“Grief” said Consultant Andrea Dechamps, (Director of Patient and Family Support), “doesn’t have to be lonely.”

Living alone is quite a recent modern phenomenon and in part by virtue of our demographics, we have a significantly high, national statistic busting, number of single households in parts of our town.

Family breakdown is also a factor.

Some of us will go to family, some invite them to us, others may actively chose to spend the day very quietly but for those feel the weight of being alone, how can we draw our neighbours in?

I’ll be dropping in to the Rotary’s ‘Alone at Christmas’ event on December 25 and I know like last year it will be a wonderful event.

Rotarians bus people from across the town in to the hall at Our Lady of Ransom.

It is an feat of organisation but there’s definitely something very special about the atmosphere there, as well as good food and entertainment.

There are many wonderful people and groups in the town making a difference and most recently I was pleased to support Waitrose’s fourth annual Christmas Isolation appeal, which helps to support elderly, homeless and vulnerable people in and around Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and Seaford.

Are you are arranging – or would like to arrange - a Christmas lunch for anyone who would otherwise be on their own at Christmas?

Is there perhaps someone in your street who might be feeling particularly lonely this year and who won’t, unlike most of us, have their family and friends around them?

If you’re living locally, Waitrose would like to help with either money, food, resources or raffle prizes for fundraising events.

And if you are a charity who would like to receive a share of the monthly £1,000, you can contact Tara Salmon at the Waitrose welcome desk, High Street, Old Town, Eastbourne BN211HR Tel: 01323 644505.