THE B-Friend Hub Fermanagh were delighted to deliver Christmas Emotional and Wellbeing packs to 90 older people throughout Fermanagh recently.

The packs included bespoke items of interest to older people, as well as a range of seasonal gifts including a Christmas pudding that was made by the catering team in the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) – an idea of one of the Fermanagh Volunteers, Donna Downey, who organised the order and collection of the puddings.

The Fermanagh packs also included a handmade card by the pupils of St. Davog’s Primary School, Belleek and a number of older people received a handmade crochet blanket, or fidget muff, which were gifted by South West Age Partnership and made by Lisnaskea Women’s Group.

The Fermanagh Hub worked with their partners in the PSNI and NIFRS to also include information leaflets in the packs on scam awareness and home fire safety.

Where possible, gifts were sourced locally to help support the local businesses who have supported older people when they were shielding throughout 2020.

Uplift funding of £47,985 from the National Lottery Community Fund also provided emotional and wellbeing packs for the Fermanagh team of volunteers, who gave their time and dedication to support the phoneline service since March, 2020.

The collation and delivery of the packs in Fermanagh was only made possible through collaboration with the team of volunteers and two key members of staff from the mPower Community Navigation team: Martina Virtue and Pauline McKeown.

‘Very grateful’

Commenting on the Christmas packs, B-Friend Hub Coordinator, Rita O’Loughlin, said: “The B-Friend Hub are very grateful to have received the uplift funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, which made it possible to provide the Christmas wellbeing packs.

“It has been a very challenging year for older people throughout Fermanagh, and through our phoneline befriending service, we have walked on many difficult journeys with our clients this year – thus, it was very special to spread a little bit of Christmas cheer throughout Fermanagh!

“I would like to thank our amazing team of volunteers who support our work and bring so much joy to our older people.

“I would also like to thank Martina Virtue and Pauline McKeown, mPower Community Navigators, as their support in delivering the packs was amazing.”

The feedback from older people on receiving their packs has been phenomenal, to date, with comments such as: “A thousand thank-yous for these beautiful gifts and for taking the time to think of us,” “Receiving the gift pack made my day, and I don’t know how to thank you all,” and “I have never received a gift like this where there was so much thought put into it; I am so thankful.”

The B-Friend Hub Project is a partnership project between Omagh Volunteer Centre and Strabane Community Project that was developed by both organisations along with Fermanagh Calling.

The B-Friend initiative provides a range of person–centred services for older people.

These services include free phone line befriending and home visit befriending, information, signposting, connecting to local activities and services, social events and volunteering opportunities.