For thousands of Brits across the UK, Christmas Day was spent with family. But for many others it was spent alone.
Co-op Funeral Director Arthur Thompson and a group dubbed the ‘Llantwit Christmas Crackers’ have been giving up their Christmas day for the past three years to collect local residents in the Vale of Glamorgan before taking them to the church hall in Llantwit for a day of festive feasts, Christmas carols and presents.
Research from the Co-op has found that loneliness is one of the biggest issues facing communities across the UK. The study found that 54%* of people who are recently bereaved and 46% of retirees who are regularly lonely said they wouldn’t know where to turn for help. With the support of the British Red Cross, Co-op continues to work closely with local communities to help tackle loneliness.
Christmas day in Llantwit is made possible by local businesses who all pull together to donate food, presents and raffle prizes for those who come along. The growing group of over 20 local residents enjoy a quiz, Christmas dinner and carol singing before settling down to watch the Queen’s speech.
Arthur Thompson, Senior Funeral Director for Co-op Funeralcare, said:
“Having spent Christmas alone myself, I know how solitary a time it can be so I didn’t think twice about joining the Llantwit Christmas Crackers.
“Christmas day is always considered as something to look forward to, but for those spending it alone it can be incredibly isolating. Together with the Llantwit Christmas Crackers, I like to think that we make a difference to those who need it most.’’
A local resident and attendee of the Llantwit Christmas Crackers lunch, said: ‘’Spending Christmas day with the Llantwit Christmas Crackers has been fantastic, it’s completely transformed my Christmas day.
‘’If it wasn’t for them I’d be spending Christmas alone, so I’m always overwhelmed by the amount of preparation and the generosity of those involved.’’
The work the Llantwit Christmas Crackers do with the local community doesn’t stop at Christmas, other trips are organised during the year. In September some of the members were taken to Porthcawl for a day of fish and chips and ice cream by the bay.