In the her last blog of the year CEO Anna Lunts reflects on the season of goodwill
Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for many reasons. This year the run up to the festive season has been marked by a mid-December election which has exposed the political divisions across our country.
Speaking in Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield in County Durham last Saturday, Boris Johnson promised to “level up” the UK by “investing in better infrastructure, better education and fantastic modern technology” across the country.
It’s hard to see, though, how the new government will bridge the growing chasm of social inequality and the polarisation of politics so evident in the election result.
According the Shelter over 320,000 people are homeless and record numbers are resorting to food banks in order to feed themselves and their families. Christmas this year is set against a backdrop of ten years of savage public sector cuts.
I will, without doubt, return to this subject in the New Year. But, for today, in the week before Christmas, there is much to celebrate within the Creative Support community. I always enjoy the opportunity to acknowledge the many achievements of our staff and the people we work with.
We have held some wonderful events throughout December. The Gala at the beginning of the month was one of the best with almost 200 people gathering to celebrate the many achievements of their friends, colleagues and the people we support.
Last weekend, the annual Trafford Christmas party was a triumph with service users and their families keen to tell me about how the excellent support they receive has enhanced their lives. It was such a powerful endorsement to hear the people we support take to the microphone themselves and relish their moment in the spotlight.
But I understand the festivities associated with Christmas can be difficult for many people. Estrangement from a loved-one was the subject that inspired ‘Holly’s Magic Christmas Clock,’ the performance by our Creative Together Drama Group at the Gala. Christmas can be the catalyst for problems that have been simmering throughout the year whether they be financial, family, relationships or mental health issues.
The traditional image of Christmas with a cosy cheerful, tastefully decorated home, surrounded by pristine snow, in which a happy family gathers to share a large dinner cooked to perfection is pretty much unachievable. I think once we accept that, it becomes much easier to enjoy Christmas.
Life is too complex and messy to ever re-create that mainstream portrayal of a perfect Christmas and there is a real danger that we feel pressure to spend money we can’t afford to try to create the impossible.
It’s easy to feel lost or overwhelmed during the Christmas period with increased pressures on our time and resources. The Mental Health Foundation has published some useful suggestions on how to keep yourself well during the festivities: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/christmas/blog/you-and-your-mental-health-still-matter-christmas
Our out of hours team, based at the Creative Support head office in Stockport, will be on duty to give professional and practical advice to staff throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Wilshaw House, our day service for people with dementia, is open 356 days a year and our staff there will be serving Christmas dinner for up to 20 people.
This is my last blog for 2019 and I would like to thank you for following me and reading my posts throughout the last year. It just remains for me to share the photos of the Trafford Christmas Ball with you and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.