NHS England Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear
‘Tis the Season to be giving - LOCAL MEDICAL PRACTICE staff DEDICATE their Christmas Day to help those in need
Christmas is the season for giving, and that couldn’t be truer for a group of volunteers from Oxford Terrace Medical Practice and Rawling Road Medical Group in Gateshead who are already hard at work to ensure that the lonely and less fortunate among us are not left without a reason to smile this Christmas.
Practice staff, in collaboration with local charity Gateshead Clubhouse, are generously giving up their time this Christmas Day to hold a four course Christmas Day dinner for those patients who are frail, vulnerable, or those with complex needs and who otherwise might be lonely and isolated this year.
The volunteers have been inspired by Health Champions, which is part of an initiative called Altogether Better, funded by the Big Lottery, and aims to recruit volunteers to work with their GP practice to set up groups and activities relating to health issues affecting their community.
Sheinaz Stansfield, Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group, practice manager, has volunteered to help out during the day and has recruited her whole family to ensure that those attending have a full stomach and a day to remember.
“Last year I nearly had the misfortune of missing spending Christmas with my family, as I was in hospital. During my stay I was heartbroken to find that some women actually wanted to be in hospital because they had no one to go home to.
“Since then I’ve worked with the Practice Champions to identify people in our community who need a little extra care, compassion and support to get them through the festive season.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support and offers of help we have had from practice staff, friends, family, and the Salvation Army in making this possible.
The Christmas Day shindig is due to be held at Gateshead Clubhouse, who have kindly offered their community hub for the day, and will be transformed into a winter wonderland where patients can enjoy their turkey and all the trimmings, which has been donated by Tesco's on Coatsworth Road.
Local pharmacies and NHS colleagues are also joining the community spirit and have donated money and festive goodies such as chocolate to ensure the day goes perfectly sweet.
Other festivities on offer to enjoy include a Christmas karaoke, and gifts for all the patients and Santa himself might even make an appearance.
This is just the beginning; Sheinaz has big plans to make this an annual event:
“The Christmas meal is just the start of our journey to support people in our community.
“We are planning to make links with other voluntary and support organisations to join up our efforts and resources to support the most vulnerable, frail and isolated people.
“We will work together to provide support throughout the year, with an attempt to reduce their reliance on unscheduled care through better support in the community to meet both their health and wellbeing needs”
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