Bernard is determined that Christmas shouldn’t be lonely for anyone in the Brackley community, where Livability’s East Midlands Lifestyle Choice service is based. So when Livability manager Mandy Himpson suggested that people from the service organise a Christmas community lunch, with help from clubs and organisations in the area, Bernard and friends jumped at the chance. ‘People who come will have someone to talk to and have some company,’ says Bernard, who is supported by this service. ‘And it gives me something I can do to help others.’
Now 28 December is set for a Christmas feast at St Peter’s church, with invitations going out to people who might feel lonely or isolated at this time of year. Livability has built up many friends and community connections in the Brackley area, which has resulted in lots of offers of help. As well as donations of food from a local butcher and supermarkets, and support from the Rotary Club, support is coming in from local business.
Along with a festive meal, cooked and served by volunteers from Livability and other helpers, guests will enjoy a performance from Brackley’s rock choir and a carols singalong, led by local clergyman and Livability supporter Revd Will Adams and his wife Linda.
Mandy, who has worked with disabled and vulnerable people for nearly 30 years, believes that an event like this can change perceptions of who needs help and ‘charity’: ‘The people who use our services, who have a wide range of needs and disabilities, have a lot to give back to the community and to wider society – but are often only seen as people who need charity themselves. That’s not how it is – people we support want to give back and to help others. This lunch will bring lots of different people together, who may not have had the opportunity to meet before, to have fun and enjoy each others’ company. I hope it will lead to lasting connections, for anyone who is involved.’