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Connect at Christmas: VSA helping alleviate sorrow, stress and increased loneliness this festive period

Dr Kenneth Simpson VSA Chief Executive
Dr Kenneth Simpson VSA Chief Executive

Over the last 150 years, VSA has has supported generations of families through two world wars, the Spanish Influenza outbreak, and the Aberdeen Typhoid outbreak.

And while Christmas time is always an important and busy time of year for the charity and its volunteers, the team are steeling themselves for more requests for support as a direct result of coronavirus restrictions.

Since March, volunteers there have supported 2,000 unpaid carers in Aberdeen, reached 245 adults and 26 youngsters through its residential support system, provided food aid to 300 people and made 1,800 mental wellbeing support calls made to unpaid carers. And demand is not easing up.

Charity chief executive Kenneth Simpson fears that for many families and people in their later years, it will be a time of stress, sorrow, and increased loneliness and isolation.

Kenneth Simpson, VSA chief executive at Easter Anguston Farm.<br />Picture by Scott Baxter

This year, VSA’s Christmas appeal will support vulnerable children and adults by providing food parcels, fuel grants and toys for families to enjoy the festive season.

Dr Simpson said: “This year is undoubtedly one of the most challenging any of us have had to face, and we have seen demand soar across all our services with thousands of families in need of support.

“That is why now more than ever vulnerable children and adults living in Aberdeen need your help. We hope that the people of Aberdeen can support us in helping to bring a smile this Christmas.”

The charity runs over 22 residential facilities that support people of all ages across various services, including later years in life, Linn Moor School in Peterculter, and mental wellbeing facilities across the city.

VSA hopes to hand deliver each resident a hamper or stocking filled with goodies, as sadly many of the people the charity supports will be unable to see their families this Christmas due to regulations.

Mike Stone (78) with Kenneth Simpson (VSA Chief Executive) and Kenny O’Brien (Senior service manager with the Partnership) in 2019.

All donations made to the charity’s appeal will go directly to spreading some cheer.

Since lockdown began in March VSA has delivered 1,200 school-based counselling sessions virtually to children, 70 more to adults, handed out 80 fuel poverty grants, reached 2,500 people through its mindfulness sessions. 1,800 more watched resilience workshops, and 5,000 unpaid carers signed up to read its new digital magazine.

VSA, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, provides care to vulnerable people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, including those with disabilities, older people and those with mental health issues.

To donate to the charity’s Christmas appeal, please visit giving.vsa.org.uk/profile

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