Nurses based at a hospital in South Wales are hosting a Christmas Day lunch for patients in the community who are most vulnerable.
Staff at Neath Port Talbot Hospital are continuing the Christmas tradition for the 16th year in a row to help combat loneliness.
“They told us they were desperate for company”
The initiative was begun by community psychiatric nurses Jane Briggs and Sue Shannon Jones – who has recently retired.
The pair first came up with the idea, along with social worker Sian Davies, when they found that patients they were visiting in their homes said they had not seen anyone over Christmas.
“They told us they were desperate for company,” said Ms Briggs.
“It really got us thinking,” she said. “The truth is that for some people Christmas Day is a lonely time and often spent alone without a hot meal and without family or friends around them.
“Hearing that the patients felt this way gave us the original idea of hosting a Christmas lunch,” she said.
Nursing staff at Neath Port Talbot Hospital
Staff and an army of volunteers at Neath Port Talbot Hospital join together each year to help prepare for the festive day, noted Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.
The event will be held at the hospital, where the facility’s catering department will prepare a three-course Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.
After food, patients are set to enjoy some entertainment which will include Christmas songs and karaoke.
The NHS board noted that the first time the nurses held the lunch 15 years ago, they had 16 guests – a number which has grown considerably over the years.
Ms Briggs said: “Every year more and more people have come to the lunch. Last year we catered for 35 people.
“We are so pleased that we are able to do this for our patients and can’t thank our local community and businesses enough who contribute to help make this happen,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see the smiles on everyone’s faces year after year as they enjoy Christmas Day surrounded by people who then become friends,” she added.
Guests are also given gifts and a take-home supper – before being picked up by taxis, which are organised by nursing staff.
“Some people will find themselves with no-one to say Merry Christmas to or to tuck into Christmas lunch with, so doing this is so important for us,” noted Ms Briggs.
She said she also wanted to thank everyone who helped to make this festive event happen.