The season of goodwill to all is upon us and Mayor of Wigan Cllr Rona Winkworth is urging residents of the borough to spare a thought for others during the festive celebrations.
In wishing everyone in Wigan Borough a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Cllr Winkworth asks people to keep a caring eye open for vulnerable people in their community.
Cllr Winkworth says: “Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of attending many Christmas celebrations, lights switch-ons and other festive events. There is a real buzz in the air. Christmas is quite rightly a time of celebration, a time for families and friends and a time of giving.
“But there will be many people in our borough for who Christmas can be a very lonely time. Older people in particular can feel isolated at Christmas, so there is an opportunity for us to be a good neighbour and spread the message about the real spirit of Christmas.”
Figures released recently by the charity Age Concern reveal that as many as a one-in-three people over the age of 55 dread the Christmas period due to combination of health and money worries and feelings on loneliness.
“The saying is that charity begins at home,” says Cllr Winkworth. “So if you have an elderly neighbour who you know could be on their own this Christmas why not give them a knock? A quick visit to make sure they are alright will cost you nothing but could mean a great deal to them.
“A quick chat and a mince-pie could really make the difference between a bleak and a bright Christmas.”
Cllr Winkworth adds that there are plenty of other Christmas messages to take note of this year.
“We must remember and be thankful for the work of all those who will be giving up some or all of their Christmas time to provide the services so many of us rely on,” she says.
“The Health Service, emergency services and council officers and carers will all be working hard over the days ahead and we all need to thank them for what they do for us.”
Cllr Winkworth adds: “In these times of economic hardship it is also important for us to remember to true meaning of Christmas. It is not about how much you spend or getting that ‘must-have’ gadget, it is about the time you spend with your loved ones, the spirit of communities coming together in celebration. I would urge people not to feel under pressure to spend money they do not have this Christmas. In times of hardship it is more important than ever to remember that the real joys in life cost nothing.”
The Mayor also has a special message for all those who have supported her charity appeal – the Children’s Ward at the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.
“The people of Wigan have really got behind my charity appeal and I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support, organised an even or made a donation,” she says. “Some children will unfortunately have to spend time in hospital this Christmas and our appeal is helping to make it as pleasant and as comfortable as possible.
“The support the appeal has received shows that the people of this borough are only to ready to look out for others. So I know we will all do our best for those less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas.”
- Pensioners Link volunteers offer a 'reach out' service (not open Xmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day). They will phone people who may be lonely - 01942 261753, but at other times of the year they can visit people's homes.
- Wigan Council’s Central Duty Team - for concerns about vulnerable people (but not loneliness) - 01942 827888 (8.45am to 5pm, except weekends and bank holidays). Outside these hours, contact the emergency duty service on 0161 834 2436.
- The Carers Helpline - 01942 606086 - not open Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, but in between is open from 9.30am to 8.30pm.