Friends of the Elderly hoping to combat loneliness this Christmas with community lunches

Bartosz Alichper is to cook 50 Christmas dinners for elderly and lonely people in March on Christmas

Bartosz Alichper is to cook 50 Christmas dinners for elderly and lonely people in March on Christmas Day. - Credit: Archant

Charity Friends of the Elderly is reaching out to those who might be spending Christmas day alone by hosting a handful of community lunches.

So far, events in March and Whittlesey have been arranged for those who could be faced with spending Christmas day alone, and the charity is calling on people in Cambridgeshire to register their events at

One of those hosting an event is March chef, Barty Alichper, who is hosting a dinner for 50 at his coffee shop, Panini’s.

A number of places have already been taken for Barty’s festive party, and the chef wants more to join him in celebrating on December 25.

“Christmas is about sharing and I simply want people who would otherwise be alone share their company with me and others to make a special day.”

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Tony Smith, 61, lives alone and went to his first community Christmas lunch last year.

He said: “The lunch was initially a complete shock to the system – having spent all these years on my own. But it was like one big happy family. I’m really looking forward to going again this Christmas.”

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Also looking forward to another community Christmas lunch are Lesley, 64, and Jim Roberts, 67, who have been going to them for the past two years.

Lesley said: “It’s a great opportunity to meet new friends. We met one gentleman who we stay in touch with over the telephone. People might be dubious about what to expect, but any worries you have before going just disappear once you get through the door. Everyone’s so welcoming, they couldn’t be friendlier. No one was sat on their own.”

Sally McLachlan, senior engagement manager at Friends of the Elderly, said: “Lots of older people tell us they don’t feel worthy of receiving a Christmas meal and there are other people more in need than themselves. This is about the community coming together on Christmas Day, whatever their age or circumstances, to enjoy some festive cheer and make new friends.

“It’s not only the people attending that have a great day but also those volunteering their time. So if you are alone on Christmas Day and would rather not be, get in touch to find out what’s taking place near you.”

For more information, visit or call 0800 063 9285, and to book a place at Barty’s Christmas dinner, call 07729 503017 or Dee Potter at Chatteris Age UK on 01354 691898.

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