Volunteers assemble to wrap and deliver Christmas gifts to Northampton's elderly

Volunteers at Park Avenue Methodist Church started packing their 360 gifts today (Tuesday).
Volunteers at Park Avenue Methodist Church started packing their 360 gifts today (Tuesday).

A volunteer scheme in Northampton is taking on a mammoth task this year as they gear up to wrap the most Christmas presents yet.

MHA Northampton Live at Home Scheme was founded 17 years ago at Park Avenue Methodist Church in Abington and is ran by hard-working volunteers and staff.

The hard-working volunteers are aiming to have 160 more gifts to donate to members of the community this year.

The hard-working volunteers are aiming to have 160 more gifts to donate to members of the community this year.

Through befriending, lunch clubs and friendship sessions, the scheme aims to tackle loneliness and isolation in people over 55 and help them remain as active members in their local communities. The oldest member the group sees is 99.

Now in it's fourth year, it is taking on its biggest challenge to date and is aiming to wrap 360 presents for the most isolated and elderly people in Northampton before dropping them off on their doorsteps this weekend.

The treat boxes this year have been funded by public donations, Carlsberg and councillors Brian Markham and Tim Hadland, through their empowerment funds.

Manager at MHA Northampton Live at Home Scheme said: "Part of the reason that we have done it again this year is we had a member who recieved one of our gifts.

Tea, coffee and hot chocolate form part of the present.

Tea, coffee and hot chocolate form part of the present.

"She had not been to the centre for quite some time and we heard from her family how much she appreciated the present and how she had been remembered by us."

Four years ago the group launched 'Operation Shortbread' at Christmas time in Northampton so their isolated, housebound members could each receive a box of biscuits.

But after identifying a larger need across the county the group now packs up more than 300 boxes filled with goods, which include biscuits, coffee, and soup to make sure a recipient has something warm to eat or drink in the winter.

Today (Tuesday) was the first day volunteers had started their gift-wrapping efforts - with eight volunteers working hard all morning to get half of the gifts ready to be dropped off this weekend to their isolated members, and other churches and lunch groups will be picking them up.

Carlsberg have kindly donated some of their beer too.

Carlsberg have kindly donated some of their beer too.