Clients from local charitable project, Opening Doors, were recently provided with musical entertainment from Saltergate Junior School over Christmas lunch held at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate.
The 61 guests, who are all older, have a disability or sensory impairment, were joined by Deputy Mayor of Harrogate Cllr Christine Ryder and her consort, for their annual Christmas luncheon. The diners were then entertained with a medley of traditional and modern Christmas songs from the 35 strong choir, who were all aged between eight and 11. 11 year old Saltergate pupil Yuan Xu also treated the audience to a solo piano recital of Chopin’s Minute Waltz. Guests were then invited to join in with the carols and presented with small gifts from the children.
Part of the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP), the Opening Doors project has been helping its members to get out and about locally for nearly 20 years. A team of dedicated volunteer befrienders accompany clients on both essential trips and to social events and outings. Many clients and volunteers are also matched based on mutual interests and meet up regularly to enjoy each other’s company whilst visiting local places of interest and community-based events. The Christmas lunch is an annual fixture on the charity’s programme of social get togethers and outings.
Christine Turner, HELP Service Co-Ordinator said: “Each year, our guests really look forward to our Christmas lunch. It is a fantastic social occasion at what can be a lonely time of year, and our guests particularly enjoy the children’s singing and mixing with the younger generation.”
Jacqueline Adshead, teacher at Saltergate Junior School, added: “Coming to sing to at the Opening Doors Christmas lunch has become a Saltergate tradition. It heralds the beginning of the Christmas for us and the children love performing their favourite Christmas songs for the guests.”
The Christmas lunch is just one way the charity helps to link people up with their local communities. 90% of Opening Doors clients tell the charity they would like to go out more; however, issues such as lack of transport, ill health or a lack of confidence to go out alone may prevent them from doing do. The Opening Doors volunteers act as a social lifeline by providing regular social contact and transport to enable clients to get out and about.
Due to unprecedented demand, the charity is now calling for more people to volunteer with them. The charity points out that this is a very flexible volunteering opportunity, which can be fitted in people’s busy lives. Christine Turner continued: “It’s the simple things, like taking someone to the cinema or having a chat over coffee, that are so appreciated by our clients. By sparing just a couple of hours of your time, you could make a real difference to local people at risk of social isolation.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the service, or becoming a volunteer, can get in touch with Jen Sonley on 01423 813095 or firstname.lastname@example.org