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Christmas Cheer: founder of Marmalade Trust Amy Perrin on her Bristol-based loneliness charity

Some 20 months after the pandemic began in earnest, usage of the Bristol-based loneliness charity Marmalade Trust has soared. As the festive season approaches, we ask founder Amy Perrin about what the charity is doing to ensure that a helping hand is given to anyone who needs it this Christmas time…

In 2013, health care professional Amy Perrin set up Bristol-based loneliness charity, Marmalade Trust – the only charity in the world specifically dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness. Eight years on, the charity has attracted hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire to fill people’s lives with new connections and friendships. On a national scale, the charity also hosts an annual loneliness awareness week, which, every June, brings the country’s attention to the importance of talking openly about loneliness and its affects on people of all ages.

Christmas Day, in particular, can be a tough day to be alone. Sadly, hundreds of people in Bristol, many of who may be of an older age, will spend the festive period without friends or family. Since it began, Marmalade Trust has been trying to remedy these statistics by holding volunteer-led events in pubs and restaurants across the region; picking people up and taking them to enjoy a meal in the company of others.

“In 2020, we were unable to run events due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop us,” says Amy. “Our amazing team of volunteers completed 185 Christmas Day visits to those who were alone and socially distancing, providing a doorstep chat and delivering a hamper full of gifts.

“This festive season, we are aware that many of our beneficiaries will have spent most of the past year socially isolated, either due to long periods of social isolation, or because general opportunities to connect have not restarted yet. We are working with our fabulous volunteers to provide connection throughout December, on Christmas Day and beyond. We have produced a connection advent calendar, filled with 24 days of connection activities, including letters from local school children and quizzes, which will be delivered on 1 December,” explains Amy. The charity is also matching volunteers to people spending Christmas Day alone, ensuring that they receive a visit or a lift to a small local event.

You can refer yourself to Christmas Cheer 2021 if you meet the charity’s eligibility criteria. Or, if you’re a friend, neighbour or a professional working with someone who would like to join Marmalade Trust, you can refer them once you’ve discussed it with them. The charity can only accept referrals who are: over 50 (but contact Marmalade Trust if you are under 50 and would like to attend); living in Bristol, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire; living alone and in their own home; feeling lonely; and double-vaccinated against Covid-19.
Beyond Christmas, Marmalade Trust will be, as always, continuing its support well into the New Year, ensuring that anyone who asks for it is given a helping hand.

If you would like to be involved, either to volunteer or help fundraise for events, get in touch via Marmalade Trust’s website: marmaladetrust.org. For more information about Christmas Cheer 2021, email christmas@marmaladetrust.org or call 07566 244788