Scheme lets residents have holiday at home

From left, guest Sheila Park, minister the Rev Helen Bell, County Cllr Peter Horton, member for Ripon South, who dropped in to see the fun, two singers from the U3A group and guest Joan Benson.
From left, guest Sheila Park, minister the Rev Helen Bell, County Cllr Peter Horton, member for Ripon South, who dropped in to see the fun, two singers from the U3A group and guest Joan Benson.
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Older residents from the Ripon area have enjoyed a summer holiday without having to leave their home town, thanks in part to the support of a £1,000 grant from North Yorkshire County Council’s Stronger Communities programme.

The Holiday at Home scheme has been run in churches across the country, but this is the first time the Ripon and Lower Dales Methodist Circuit has staged an event.

“It is like going on holiday without having to pack a suitcase,” said the circuit’s lay pastoral worker for the elderly, Diane Gaskill, who organised the four-day event.

“It is to get people out of their daily routine.

“We had more and more guests each day as word got around. It has been a real success and a really packed week.

“Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it. We have had laughter from start to finish. About 90 per cent of the people who came along live alone or in a care home, so it has given them companionship and an opportunity to chat.”

Over the four days, 97 people – the oldest 95 – attended the holiday events, which took the theme of Seaside Rock.

Three members of staff and 18 volunteers helped to run the events at Allhallowgate Methodist Church and, on the last day, The Moors care home in Ripon.

Volunteers or taxis picked up the guests to start each day with morning coffee followed by optional worship.

There was then a craft sessions, making souvenirs including coloured sand bottles, shell boxes, beach hut keyholders and suncatchers.

Holiday lunches followed, the most popular being fish and chips in paper followed by ice cream.

Afternoon entertainment included a film, a concert by the U3A Singers, a talk about the coast and a duo singing hits of the ’50s and ’60s.

Memory films from the Yorkshire Film Archives ran during breaks, showing scenes of the Yorkshire coast in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and prompting reminiscences from the guests, some of whom are living with dementia.

The Methodist circuit provided financial support and premises as well as co-ordinating the event and volunteers.