As I write, Christmas 2021 is only a few days away. Shops have been full of seasonal merchandise for weeks. The Christmas market in York is in full swing. Stalls full of fascinating gift ideas, all sorts of foods and drinks to tempt a curious purchase, and a vibrant mixture of visitors and locals enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. Christmas trees stand proudly decorated with lights and tinsel. Micklegate Bar is festooned with beautiful lights as are many other buildings across the city. Some local homes are decorated with inflatable Santas and fairy lights. Despite the continued restrictions brought about by staying safe from Covid, people are determined that Christmas 2021 will be celebrated.
So what are we doing at Restore this year? We provide Christmas decorations so that houses can be made to feel a little bit more special. It is down to each house to choose how they would like to put up decorations. We buy every resident in our homes a present they can open on Christmas Day. A gift they can be blessed with and show they are valued and loved. We also provide every house with a food hamper with lots of treats. The Housing Support Workers will also help residents with showing how to cook a tasty Christmas meal if that support is required (many of our residents are excellent cooks, and probably can teach us a few new ways to prepare food!). As the majority of our houses are shared accommodation, residents do not have to be alone and we encourage them to cook a Christmas meal together as a household.
Before Christmas some of our residents joined in a Christmas meal at York Community Church www.yorkcommunitychurch.co.uk. As part of our work, we encourage our residents to engage with local communities. It is good for us and good for local communities to come together, particularly over a delicious meal. We thank York Community Church for hosting such a wonderful event.
We arranged a hugely popular trip to York Theatre Royal www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk to see the Cinderella pantomime. This was made possible through the theatre’s ‘pay-it-forward’ programme. Many kind-hearted people, when booking their own tickets, also bought an extra ticket for ‘pay-it-forward’. The theatre offers these tickets to a host of local charities and disadvantaged groups who would otherwise be unable to attend the performance. It was so popular with our residents that we bought extra tickets using our Engagement Programme funding provided by several grants.
We do not want any of our residents to struggle during the period between Christmas and New Year, so will contact everyone just to check how things are going. For some, past Christmas’ have been less than easy. Relationship breakdowns can leave some with past hurts that may take years to fully heal. We do our best to bring families together, but this is not always possible. If there is an emergency, then we are available on-call should this be necessary.
Of course we are registering residents with Covid immunisations and booster jabs to ensure everyone stays safe. If a resident needs extra support, then our Housing Support Workers will be on hand to help.
I am proud of the team who have done so much to make Christmas special for our residents this year. We do this, not just because it is our job, but as extension of our Christian faith. I like a small detail in the photo by Matthew Ball on Unsplash, ‘Christ is the best part of Christmas’. As a team, we pray for each our residents on a daily basis, and will continue to pray for everyone.
Please check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RestoreYork/ to become a friend and get regular updates on what we do. If you would like to support our work, please click on the link https://www.restoreyork.co.uk/donate/ . If you cannot give, perhaps you could sign up to our newsletter https://www.restoreyork.co.uk/contact/.
I hope all our residents, staff and supporters have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Restore York CEO