Sil­ver Cross of St. Ge­orge: Amy Per­rin

This England - - News - Ed­ward Cam­pion

Lone­li­ness

is bad for your health, which oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, Amy Per­rin, quickly recog­nised. Hav­ing worked as a health pro­fes­sional and vol­un­teer for more than 20 years, she was well aware of how tough so­cial iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness can be, so in 2013 she founded the Mar­malade Trust in or­der to help older, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

When three of those she reg­u­larly helped told her they would be spend­ing Christ­mas Day alone, she tried to find them some­where to go but im­me­di­ately dis­cov­ered the great short­age of Christ­mas Day events in Bris­tol, so she de­cided to take them out her­self in­stead.

Word spread and Amy was ap­proached by GPS, health pro­fes­sion­als and a lo­cal bank clerk, all ask­ing if there was space for some­one they knew who was go­ing to be alone. The orig­i­nal group of three quickly ex­panded to 18 and, fol­low­ing a lovely day, the thank-you cards be­gan to flood in and, with com­ments such as “This was the first time in 16 years I was not alone on Christ­mas Day”, the Mar­malade Trust was born.

Vol­un­teers were re­cruited and fund-rais­ing took on a new mean­ing. By the fol­low­ing year 18 had grown to 40 and within two years Christ­mas Day lunch was be­ing held in three dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions with com­pan­ion­ship ex­tended to 60 peo­ple.

The Trust be­lieves no­body should spend Christ­mas Day alone if they don’t want to and also recog­nises lone­li­ness as a year-round af­fair. Amy com­ments: “We host our lunches at lo­cal pubs and restau­rants be­cause our guests say this makes them feel part of the com­mu­nity. We also fund-raise to make sure all our guests are in­vited as friends. We do not ex­clude peo­ple by age and are now able to ex­tend in­vi­ta­tions to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties who would also have been on their own. Our vol­un­teers mean ev­ery­thing be­cause they drive the guests, raise the money, fill the ham­pers and share the ex­cite­ment. We could not do it with­out them.”

Well done Amy, and all her vol­un­teers.

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