Durham students spread festive cheer to care home residents

After a particularly difficult year, Durham University students and staff have spread festive cheer to some of those who are especially vulnerable and feeling isolated this Christmas by writing Christmas cards to care home residents.

Hundreds of students have quickly joined a new initiative for this year, through which they can write greetings cards to elderly residents of care homes in Durham City and across County Durham who might otherwise be feeling lonely this Christmas.

Students have been invited to write something about themselves and perhaps include a photograph. Following a Covid-19 quarantine period, the cards will be delivered in unsealed envelopes – giving care home staff the chance to read them and, if they choose, match students to residents who share their interests or with whom they have something in common.

The University hopes the Christmas initiative may in future help to nurture long-term links between particular Colleges and care homes.

Weiwei Su, a Geography student from Kent, said: “I got involved because I thought this would be a brilliant way to connect students and local communities, particularly during the current crisis.”

Lijie Dong, a Philosophy and Politics student from north-east China who is the current President of Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach, said: “I wanted to connect with people and put a smile on their face.”

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Elsewhere, student volunteers created a winter wonderland for families supported by Beyond Limits, a charity that operates in south Durham; and staff volunteers helped the charity Feeding Families sort Christmas food donations.

Both staff and students are supporting Children North East and REfUSE community café in Chester-le-Street through the University’s annual Christmas Wish Tree project.

Quentin Sloper, Director of Experience Durham, said: “Our students and staff are always very generous with their time and money in service of others and support a huge range of good causes.

“We know the Covid-19 pandemic has caused real misery and suffering for many in our local communities, and been a huge challenge for many charities too. We’re pleased to be able to show our support, especially in these tough times, and we wish every one of our neighbours and partners a very happy Christmas.”

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