The newspapers in the days before Christmas
Loneliness: The media had their way in producing a story of an older man who faced the prospect of a Christmas alone and without a Christmas tree. His interview on Breakfast TV provoked the staff to mobilise local students in Oldham to visit him, equipped with tree and a choir to sing ‘Silent Night’. Terence told of happy Christmases spent with his mother. His plan for this year is to spend time with a 90 year old lady met via his voluntary work with Age UK. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7784565/Pensioner-brought-tears-students-bring-Christmas-tree.html
Age UK has much to say on the issue, estimating that ‘millions’ of older people will have at least mixed feelings about this time of celebration, with 200,000 being alone.
The dynamics of being alone on the one hand, and feeling lonely on the other, are complex. How to respond is challengingly not simple. Membership of local communities, especially faith communities, is an available and powerful support against the adverse consequences of both. At this time, and all others we must be open to welcome newcomers, and be careful not to overlook those who have had regular contact but find this less possible when health other circumstances change. www.faithaction.net/working-with-you/tackling-loneliness/
Lady Hale is 74 years old and is retiring from her position as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom www.supremecourt.uk/news/valedictory-ceremony-for-lady-hale.html. She has made her mark as a champion on women’s issues, her refusal to be allow a prorogation and her pride in being identified as ‘a girly swot’. Some of us have less warmth toward her for her ruling in the Cheshire west case which has precipitated many into confusion, delays and Local Authorities into financial difficulty https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/03/19/supreme-court-ruling-heralds-sharp-rise-deprivation-liberty-safeguards-cases/ The consequences are still to be resolved.
Pope Francis is 83 years old. He is widely respected and not planning to retire www.thetablet.co.uk/news/12311/from-zero-to-2020-in-83-years-pope-puts-his-foot-down
Stephen Cottrell Bishop of Chelmsford is 61 years old and is to become Archbishop of York in succession to Archbishop John Sentamu www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-50821262
The Archbishop of Canterbury identified the rise of homelessness among a number of phenomena that disturb him in the direction of travel of the UK https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/archbishop-canterbury-welby-homeless-inequality-racism-food-banks-a9248471.html
The artists Gilbert and George have changed their spots as grumpy old men to raise funds for the homeless who are sleeping rough https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/dec/18/gilbert-george-put-art-on-plates-to-help-feed-the-homeless
The Guardian has featured individual stories of people, young and old who have died homeless, in their ‘Empty Doorway’ series https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2019/dec/20/your-tributes-to-homeless-people-who-have-died
These accounts bring home the realities behind the statistics https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1883817/This_is_England_A_picture_of_homelessness_in_2019.pdf
Christmas is a popular time of reflection, feasting and return to family. Not everyone will celebrate as Christians but will trace their involvement to times even before Christ when this time of year was treated with awe: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/20/religious-christmas-reasons-scientific-midwinter-solstice
But the BBC maintains traditions and shares them with households across this country and beyond. They find reliable support from within the Black Christian community
Happy Christmas 2019