Stoke-on-Trent students bring community together at Christmas time

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Big-hearted students at The Cooperative Academy of Stoke-on-Trent hosted a Christmas lunch for more than 100 guests in a bid to tackle loneliness among the elderly at Christmas time.

According to Age UK, more than two million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, many experiencing extreme isolation and chronic loneliness.

Research conducted last year found half of over 80-year-olds in Stoke-on-Trent live alone, and some even going for over a month without speaking to a friend or relative.

Aiming to bridge the gap between generations, more than 50 students rallied together to organise the Christmas lunch.

The day brought members of the community together for food, Christmas carols, bingo and other activities.

One guest Janet Huckfield, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, said: “The benefits are amazing because I know people who are on their own only get out once a week.

“This brings together lots of people from the community and it’s good that we get to know the students as well. It’s a win-win situation.”

Life-changing events such as illness, retirement and bereavement are among factors which leave elderly people feeling isolated.

Holly Myers, one of the students who organised the celebration, said: “It’s the worst thing when you hear about elderly people alone at Christmas, you can’t believe it happens.

“The best part of today has been listening to their stories, how they grew up and how their school experiences were.

“Just have a laugh and joke with them instead of being serious all of the time.”

The school in Westport Road, Tunstall, is part of The Co-op Academies Trust, which aims to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, as well as contribute to community projects.

Principal Nick Lowry said: “This is a great event for our students and staff.

“As a Co-op, we’ve a long established tradition of not just trying to educate our young people, but to also transform our community.”

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