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Christmas Giving Box launch for Age UK Norwich

intu Chapelfield has teamed up with Age UK Norwich to collect Christmas presents for lonely older people and those living with dementia.

To spread some joy to older people living alone this Christmas, intu Chapelfield has launched a new charity appeal today (11 November) supporting Age UK Norwich.

Staff from intu Chapelfield, representatives from Age UK Norwich and some cheeky elves gathered at the newly installed Giving Box today, to donate the very first gifts from the Boots store on the launch day of the appeal.

The supersized present box is located outside Tiger, on St Stephen’s Arcade in the shopping centre, and will be at intu Chapelfield for four weeks from now until Sunday 8 December.  And from today, intu are encouraging visitors to generously donate presents, whatever they can afford to give, to let older people know they are not alone this Christmas.

Gifts can be anything from socks to scarves, books to baubles, anything that can simply bring a smile to the face of someone older, who is feeling isolated at this time of year.  As well as gifts, the appeal aims to raise awareness about the issue of loneliness in the city, the support available to help tackle the problem, and how we can all make Norwich a better place to grow old.

Once gifts are collected, after Sunday 8 December, volunteers from intu will carefully wrap the donations before handing them to Age UK for distribution in the local community. The presents will be given out to those using the Age UK Norwich befriending service; a simple yet vital befriending scheme which acts as a lifeline for many older people living alone. Volunteers are paired up with older people throughout Norwich and Norfolk, ensuring they have regular visits from someone, and simply a friend to talk to. With half of all over 75’s living alone, and one in 10 older people telling their people they are lonely, it’s a service that is in demand. While gifts will also be shared out with people at the Marion Day Centre in Norwich; a safe, friendly, welcoming place for those living with dementia.

Sheridan Smith is marketing manager at intu Chapelfield and says; “For many of us, Christmas is spent with close friends and family, but for others less fortunate, it can be a time of isolation and loneliness.  That’s why we’ve teamed up with Age UK for our Christmas appeal this year; and are asking our visitors to donate a gift to the Giving Box. A simple present is just a small gesture, but it’s something that could make a big impact, and bring joy to someone who would otherwise feel alone at this time of year.”

“If it’s difficult for people to leave home, or they have few family members living close-by, days and weeks can pass before they see or hear from anybody. Nobody should be alone, especially at Christmas. And by collecting these gifts, we hope our visitors will help to raise lots of smiles and boost the spirits of elderly people living in Norfolk this December.”

Nicolette Neile, Age UK Norwich’s events and volunteer co-ordinator, said: “We are delighted to be involved with the intu Chapelfield Giving Box campaign. One of our main aims as a charity is to help tackle loneliness among older people and this is something that is really heightened during the festive season. Gifts like this can make a real difference and they help to remind people that they are not alone.”

The intu Chapelfield Giving Box is positioned on the St Stephen’s Arcade, just outside Tiger (Caffé Nero entrance) and will be taking donations from 11 November until 8 December.

To give a gift and raise a smile:

·         Simply pop an unwrapped gift in the Giving Box before 8 December.

·         Any breakable items should be dropped off at the information desk, on the upper ground mall.

·         All gifts gratefully received, although electrical goods cannot be accepted.

Age UK Norwich has recommended these gift ideas:

·         Books and audiobooks

·         Hats, scarves and gloves

·         Puzzle books

·         Jigsaws

·         Mini games

·         Socks

·         Toiletries

·         Chocolates/confectionery

·         Craft kits (embroidery, knitting, crochet)

·         Christmas decorations

Tackling loneliness in Norwich

·         20,000 people in Norfolk are frail or slowing up in older age – and depend on assistance with personal activities or mobility.

·         Half of over 75’s live alone

·         One in ten older people tell their GP they are lonely – which, doctors say is as harmful to life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

·         Nearly 2% of the population of Norwich are living with dementia – and many of the city’s companies struggle to cater for their needs

·         Norwich is considered one of the worst cities for loneliness in the country – 73% of people who participated in a survey said they suffered from loneliness for up to six months.