Edinburgh Christmas Cheer: Spotlight on those helping society's most vulnerable as Evening News campaign launched

The Edinburgh Evening News wants to shine a spotlight on the people who are working tirelessly to help those facing a difficult Christmas season.

Friday, 6th December 2019, 1:38 pm

The city’s lights have been switched on, the Christmas market is in full swing and there is not an advent calendar to be found on Princes Street.

The festive spirit has well and truly arrived in Edinburgh and few would argue that there are better places to spend the winter season.

For most in the city, the month of December offers a much-needed rest, a chance to catch up with extended family and argue over the television in a warm home.

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Richard Roncero and son Alfie, 6, volunteer to help the homeless charity Hands of Hope. Pic: Ian Georgeson.
Richard Roncero and son Alfie, 6, volunteer to help the homeless charity Hands of Hope. Pic: Ian Georgeson.

But for some the festivities serve as a reminder of their isolation.

Behind closed doors there are countless lonely people facing a Christmas by themselves.

Edinburgh’s elderly population is among those most at risk of social isolation with nearly 100,000 older people in Scotland set to eat their turkey alone.

Near 50 per cent rise in food parcel handouts

On our city streets are many rough sleepers struggling to survive through the bitter cold of winter and many on low-incomes are forced to turn to food banks to feed their families.

This year there has been an increase of 48 per cent in the number of food parcels handed out to people in our capital city.

Among these difficulties are Edinburgh’s very own Christmas elves are hard at work helping bring some cheer to those in need.

From supermarket food bank donations to individuals knitting hats for the homeless, there is no shortage of goodwill in our city this December.

The Edinburgh Evening News wants to shine a spotlight on the people who are working tirelessly to help those facing a difficult Christmas season.

This is why the Evening News, with the support of Hibs, Hearts, NHS Lothian, Network Rail, Tesco, ScotRail, Gamechangers, and Big Hearts has launched the Edinburgh Christmas Cheer campaign. This will highlight the numerous good deeds taking place across our great city and show the world that Edinburgh and the Lothians is the Capital of Kindness.

Tim Davison, chief executive of NHS Lothian, said that he is pleased to be a part of a campaign that brings attention to the health and wellbeing of those in Lothian.

He said: “The festive season can be a particularly difficult time of year for people who are struggling and experiencing loneliness and social

isolation.

“NHS Lothian is proud of its continuing involvement in this city-wide campaign, at the heart of Edinburgh Cheer is the recognition that we can all play our part to help, with so much that we can all do collectively to help spread a little cheer.”

Hibs and Hearts

Hibs and Hearts are also looking forward to Christmas Cheer campaign and both football clubs will open their stadiums on Christmas Day for two very special festive dinners.

Last year nearly 300 people who might otherwise have been on their own or had less to look forward to than other people were royally fed at Easter Road and Tynecastle and this year the event is likely to get even bigger.

Hibs Chief Executive Leeann Dempster said that she is “delighted” to support the Edinburgh Cheer campaign and has urged anyone who can help to get involved.

Ms Dempster is “looking forward” to the club’s fourth year opening its stadium on Christmas Day and has invited everyone along.

She said: “People who might otherwise have less to enjoy at Christmas come along, from those without a home through to refugees trying to make a new home.”

Ann Budge, Hearts chairwoman & Big Hearts Trustee has echoed these sentiments and said that she is looking forward to opening the stadium once again this Christmas.

She said: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club is, once again, happy to offer a free festive meal for individuals and families whose circumstances may mean that they are left feeling isolated or vulnerable on Christmas Day.

“We look forward to opening up Tynecastle Park to spread some kindness to those most in need during the festive season.”

Euan McGrory, Editor of the Evening News, said: “One of the key roles of any good, local newspaper is to support the efforts of its readers to make their community a better place to live.

“We want to know about all the great things you are doing to make Edinburgh and the Lothians the Capital of Kindness this year. Tell us and we’ll help spread the word.

“I’m delighted once again to be joining forces with Hearts, Hibs, NHS Lothian, and all our other partners to spread the spirit of goodwill far and wide.”

Donate at football stadiums

Tesco is joining forces with Hibs, Hearts and Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership to launch Edinburgh Cheer throughout the city’s stores.

Starting in Leith the team will travel to various stores throughout the capital on Saturday and Sunday to gather food for those in need this Christmas.

Supermarket staff are asking everyone to come down to their local stores and donate whatever they can to help feed the hungry this Christmas.

Also this weekend Edinburgh Helping Hands will be collecting donations at the football stadium from 10 am until kick-off this Saturday.

All food collected will be distributed to local causes in Edinburgh.

What should I take?

Supporters are asked to donate non-perishable items such as:

-tins of fruit

-tins of vegetables

-sugar

-UHT milk

-cartons of fruit juice

-tins of custard

-tins of creamed rice

-coffee

If you are unable to make the game but still wish to contribute you can hand in donations to the West Stand reception, or donate by visiting justgiving.com/crowdfunding/edinburghhelpinghands

What the Evening News will be doing

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves at Christmas.

We have taken a pledge at the Evening News to do our bit to help make as many people happy as possible.

Over the next three-and-a-half weeks we will be bringing you lots of hints and tips on how to have as much fun as possible.

We will also be looking for ways to extend that Christmas spirit to others who are less fortunate.

How you can help

There are all kinds of ways you can help to make Edinburgh and the Lothians the Capital of Kindness. That might be simply smiling and wishing someone a good day or a Happy Christmas.

If you want to do more, we will be bringing you details over the coming days of different ways in which you can make a difference either by offering your time or making a donation.

Tell us what you are doing

If you are doing something to spread good cheer then let us know and we will help spread the word.