Christmas is a wonderful time to bring people together in celebration.
Younger and older people who have been supported by the county council and its partners have embraced that opportunity.
Here, we drop in on Christmas dinners held for young care leavers who have been looked after and are now living independently, and celebrations at just two of the many extra care housing schemes around the county.
Two care leavers now working as apprentices for the County Council organised the Christmas dinners for young people leaving care. The lunches were held in Northallerton, Knaresborough, Scarborough and Selby by Louise Faircloth and Shannon Downing, who are now Youth Work and Participation Apprentices.
“It has been really rewarding attending the Christmas lunches with our young people,” said Louise. “As I am a care leaver it has been a time I have been able to reflect on how lucky I am to share such a lovely experience with others.
“Our care leavers have had a brilliant time with a great atmosphere. Throughout the year it is important for us to offer support throughout the services received, but especially at Christmas to show our young people they are not alone.”
Shannon added: “It has been warming to spend the Christmas period with our care leavers across four different areas, coming together like a family. As a care leaver it is really important to show support to others, not just at Christmas time but all year round.”
North Yorkshire is rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted for the support it gives in helping young people to realise their potential.
Care leavers have an allocated leaving care case worker who liaises with them directly, coordinates any additional support they may need and helps them to manage any risks.
The Christmas lunches were paid for by contributions from locality budgets made by county councillors for each area.
Older and younger people shared festive celebrations at Jazz Court extra care scheme in Eastfield, Scarborough. Its busy calendar included celebrating Elf Day for the Alzheimer’s Society with fancy dress, a bake sale and a visit from St George’s Primary School choir on 6 December. The event raised more than £50.
Jazz Court has close links with several schools and before Christmas also has visits from Overdale School and George Pindar School’s brass band.
Activities co-ordinator, Tracey Potter, said: “It bridges the age gap and evokes memories. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you remember going to watch the children singing at school and it is a good link to our community. We have a very nice link with the schools around us. We are very lucky.”
Extra care is a priority for the county council in support of its goal to help people live independently for as long as possible. Extra care housing gives residents the security and privacy of a home of their own, with access to on-site facilities, such as a shop, salon and café, and 24-hour care and support, if needed. There are 23 operational schemes across the county, which are developed and managed in partnership with housing providers, with more on the way.
Local people are encouraged to use the facilities, and bringing the community into extra care schemes is part of what makes them a vibrant place to live.
At The Cuttings extra care scheme in Harrogate, festive fun has included a Christmas Pop-up Shop with local traders, an Elf Yourself Day, visits from Ashville School Choir and Sing Bramham, plus a Christmas jumper day and a party with entertainment from the Harrogate ukulele band.
Scheme manager Louise Swart said after the pop-up shop: “It was a great success and thorough enjoyed by the tenants and the wider community, as well. It was a hive of activity. We get a lot of support from the community, including the families of past tenants, which is lovely.”
The Cuttings is also providing space for music and dance sessions for the Rhythm and Time mums and toddlers group.
Louise said: “It is amazing how the children connect with the elderly. Babies and toddlers don’t have any boundaries. We have lots of different things going on. We are starting our own choir with funding from the mayor.”