A NEW SURVEY by The Salvation Army has revealed that nearly one in 10 people will spend Christmas day alone this year in Wales (9 per cent), more than double the average across Britain (3 per cent).
The poll that the church and charity commissioned with YouGov, also revealed that 12 per cent of people in the country felt lonely over the festive season last year (higher than the British average of 11 per cent). The Salvation Army is working within local communities to tackle the issue of isolation and loneliness, and bringing Christmas to many people who would otherwise be unable to celebrate the festive season. Last year, church and charity supported more than 53,000 people over Christmas in Britain, delivered more than 70,000 presents donated to us, and cooked 1703 Christmas dinners Major Val Mylechreest, Salvation Army spokeswoman, said:
“Loneliness can affect anyone of any age or background. People in Wales, like many people across the Britain, can feel disconnected to their local communities and out of touch with their families over the Christmas period. Every year many of our churches open their doors on Christmas Day for a sociable lunch or go out into the community – and see people from every background and age.”
According to the survey, 81 per cent of the Welsh think the season has become too materialistic, with the survey average 77 per cent. With an average total spend of £438 in the country, Christmas is an expensive celebration with the Welsh forking out more than people living in London, South East England and Scotland. The poll also found that 43 per cent of people believe that Christmas is still a Christian festival. The survey suggests that many of us still believe in ‘Christian charity’ with 12 per cent planning to help vulnerable people in need or volunteer with charities over the festive period, though that is below the British average of 14 per cent. Demi Hall, 39, from London, was struggling to make ends meet and needed emergency food for her family, so she asked The Salvation Army for help. She now volunteers at the church (corps) in Clapton, London and the nearby Salvation Army community café in Stoke Newington.
She said: “The Christmas holidays were really difficult. I have extended family but the added pressure of providing for my son at Christmas made me feel very isolated, because I was trying to cope with things on my own. I wanted to treat my son to a nice Christmas. The Salvation Army church in Clapton helped me with friendship, food and books to make Christmas a happy time for us. I’m now working for The Salvation Army coordinating the food parcel programme – helping people like me.”
Val Mylechreest adds: “The Salvation Army are here to help anyone in Wales who needs us, regardless of background. If you are feeling lonely, or worried about feeling lonely, please get in touch with your local church.