Silver Cross of St. George: Amy Perrin
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.