Doorstep dinners, adopt a grandparent and “wee bundles of Christmas cheer” are among the ways north-east groups are helping tackle loneliness this year.
When the annual lunch on Christmas Day in Huntly had to be cancelled, volunteers made it their mission to come up with an initiative that would help those missing out.
Now teams are poised to deliver free “make your own” meal hampers or a three course meal to make sure no one in the neighbourhood goes without.
Festive home deliveries are being offered by the Huntly centre of the Aberdeenshire North Foodbank and the Neep and Okra kitchen.
Volunteer Caroline Gatt said: “Every year a group of organisations and volunteers organise the Huntly Stewarts Hall Christmas lunch and it is very much a whole community thing.
“I’ve walked on the street and a couple of people who are regulars have asked what we’ll be doing this year.
“At 6pm on Christmas Day we’re also inviting everyone to come out on their doorstep and sing a carol. They can just come out and listen if they don’t want to sing.
“For my family, if we don’t go to the Christmas lunch then we don’t have any other family nearby and it can be pretty lonely. Even just to see a neighbour and say hi can be so lovely – it is company.
“Isolation doesn’t have an age or a socioeconomic background.”
Around 60 people from the AB54 postcode area attended last year’s Christmas lunch and organisers are hoping to top that this time.
Another north-east campaign was inspired by a mother who became told an emotional story while she was at a baby class run by Dyce-based Neomammas.
Although she usually hosts her grandmother at her home for Christmas dinner, this year she won’t be able to take her out of the care home due to coronavirus risks.
Claire Carstairs, who runs Neomammas, is now encouraging people to ‘Make Cole’s Great Grandma and her friends smile again’ by buying gifts for her and other residents of the Persley Castle home.
Mrs Carstairs said: “A lot of mums stay local but aren’t from around here so they haven’t seen their family in a while or families have only met their baby once.
“My grandparents are really far away and I just thought if they had received a random card then it would make them smile and it is so kind.
“We thought it would be quite a good idea. If we get more then we could actually deliver to other care homes in Dyce and Newmacher.”
Anyone can participate via the Neomammas Facebook page where they are allocated a resident number and colour to guide them in their gift choice.
The group is hoping to receive all donations by Friday so they can be left for a period of time to avoid contamination.
Young at Heart Deeside meanwhile has started a “Wee Bundle of Christmas Cheer” initiative to gift festive bags to older people in the area who might be alone.
Organiser Aileen Longino said: “We know Christmas will be different for everyone this year but particularly for those who will be on their own.
“We want to bring a bit of the Christmas spirit to people’s doorsteps in Tarland and Logie Coldstone and are asking the community to nominate a neighbour, friend or relative who would like to receive this gift.
“The whole point of the group is to connect people. A lot of older people don’t have technology to do things online and don’t have Zoom.
“I live in the village and I know there are people who live in cottages up in the hills with no relatives close by.
“We want people to know that there is someone there for them.”
The gift bags will go out in doorstep deliveries on the week leading up to Christmas.
Nominations can be made with the name and address of the recipient by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or at The Paper Shop, Toyshop and Post Office in Tarland.
To receive a Huntly meal, a message should be left with Carolyn Gatt on 07595601523 or Di Mitchell on 07710114439 before Friday.