Care homes’ sweet move to brighten up Xmas for hundreds of children

Generous residents, families and community supporters have been praised for collecting hundreds of chocolate gifts to brighten up Christmas for less fortunate children.
Voluntary group Chocolate Elf Hampshire spoke of their ‘enormous gratitude’ to the residents, families, team members and other well-wishers at seven Colten Care homes who supported an appeal.

More than 300 selection boxes and advent calendars have been gathered at the homes’ collection points this year, triple the number in 2022.

Chocolate Elf has now taken the gifts for distribution to children across south Hampshire via partners such as the city council children services’ teams in Southampton and Portsmouth, respite homes, refuges, faith groups and the young carers’ charity, Honeypot.

Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close, left, and Linda Fudge, with some of the gifts gathered from our New Forest homes for Chocolate Elf Hampshire.

Our New Forest homes Belmore Lodge, Court Lodge, Linden House, Woodpeckers and Kingfishers all acted as collection points this year along with Winchester homes Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View.
As he visited Belmore Lodge in Lymington to pick up the New Forest gifts, Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme said: “Every single donation will transform a child’s day. It’s a humbling experience to see the amount of gifts these amazing care home residents,  staff and contacts have amassed. Along with my fellow volunteers, I can only offer the most enormous gratitude.”
Peter added: “To have increased the number of gifts by so many this year is truly outstanding, even more so when you think of the tough times people are seeing right now with the cost of living. I’m glad I brought the bigger car to collect everything!”

Belmore Lodge residents Brenda Close and Linda Fudge spoke of their reasons for wanting to help.

Brenda said: “I used to work in a women’s refuge as a volunteer and met lots of children who had nothing. Some of the children we’re helping today won’t have any other present this Christmas. This will be their only gift. It’s lovely to do something but help is always needed.”

At Belmore Lodge home in Lymington with New Forest chocolate donations are, from left: Customer Advisors Lynne Thorp, Deborah Davies, Tracy McCallum and Tracy Baker; and Chocolate Elf representative Peter Orme.

Brenda’s thoughts were echoed by Linda who said: “This is a marvellous initiative for Christmas. There are so many children in need and, after all, they didn’t ask to be put in that position.”

The donations will go towards a grand total of more than 5,000 gifts that Chocolate Elf expect to distribute this year.

The gathering of selection boxes and calendars was co-ordinated by the homes’ team of Customer Support Advisors.

Working closely with Home Managers, the advisors act as the first point of contact for prospective residents and relatives, supporting, informing and advising them on all aspects of the journey into care.
Tracy Baker, Customer Support Advisor for Belmore Lodge and Court Lodge, said: “Our residents and their families, and our colleagues and friends in the community, understand the fantastic work that Chocolate Elf does for children in Hampshire and we always want to do our bit to help.

“After we reached out on social media, one lady we know in Brockenhurst dropped off more than 30 calendars from herself and neighbours while another handed in 20.

“Supporting such a worthwhile cause is a further way our residents maintain their community connections.”

Love is in the air as our homes prepare for Valentine’s Day

Residents are set to celebrate Valentine’s Day with romantic lunches, parties, live music and community greetings
Hearts, flowers, bubbly, cards and chocolates will all feature in the fun as homes enter the romantic spirit.

Here at Belmore Lodge, pianist Mark Busell will entertain residents at a Valentine’s-themed afternoon tea. A raffle will be held in aid of the home’s nominated charity, the Lymington Dogs Trust.

Residents  have also been making heart decorations featuring photos and wording about loved ones. These will be put on display on a ‘Sweetheart Tree’ in the home.

At Linden House, around eleven couples have been invited to an afternoon tea party in the home’s sun lounge. The room and tables will be decorated Valentine’s-style and soft music will be played in the background to create a romantic mood.

Residents at Court Lodge are taking a community-themed approach to Valentine’s Day. In a ‘random act of kindness’ they are writing messages with loving words, attaching them to roses and sharing them with the community in nearby Woodside Park.

Here at Kingfishers, the fun includes a Valentine’s party with live entertainment from the Land Girls, a sherry and wine social, a special lunch and a bingo afternoon.

Woodpeckers is staging an ‘Art With Heart’ exhibition featuring works by residents intended to represent love.

The home has asked Brockenhurst Primary School, Brockenhurst College and other Colten New Forest homes to contribute entries too.
Guests coming to the show on Valentine’s Day will also have the chance to enjoy a heart-themed afternoon tea. Donations will go to the Honeypot children charity.

[caption id="attachment_4573" align="alignnone" width="768"] Brook View residents and married couple Audrey and David Vincent enjoy their romantic lunch on Valentine’s Day[/caption]

At Avon Reach, staff are decorating the home with love hearts and inviting residents to tuck into a high tea. A raffle on the day will raise funds for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Two resident couples at Brook View, Trevor and Pam and Audrey and David, will enjoy romantic-themed meals in the dining room.

At Avon Cliff, residents and staff are being encouraged to wear red or pink at a tea dance. There will also be a ‘luxury high tea’ accompanied by the gentle sounds of live harp music.

Valentine’s Day will also be celebrated at our homes further afield. Residents at St Catherines View in Winchester will welcome toddlers from the nearby Topps Day Nursery for chocolate-making fun.

The youngsters will be taking home the treats to give to their mums and dads afterwards as Valentine’s gifts.

At Whitecliffe House in Blandford, staff will deliver roses and sweets to all residents. In the afternoon, residents will come together to listen to favourite love songs and share memories of Valentine’s Day and loved ones.

‘Enchanted forest’ gives our residents an early taste of Christmas magic

Residents from our New Forest care homes took the chance to decorate Christmas trees they contributed to a Lymington church festival
Parties from our homes in Lymington and New Milton were joined by our residents to add colour and sparkle to their trees at St Thomas Church.

They then returned a couple of days later to admire the full community collection of more than 60 trees going on public display in what the church described as an ‘enchanted forest’.

Colten Care was among the businesses, organisations and charities to partner on the Christmas Tree Festival, creating a hands-on opportunity for its residents to support a community cause.

As well as viewing the display, our residents enjoyed tea and cake and live music performed by Milford West Gallery Quire and the Forestina Concertina Group.
Court Lodge resident Joy Blackmore said: “It was so lovely to be a part of something so traditional and like old times. I had such a wonderful afternoon.”
Our Chief Operating Officer, Elaine Farrer, said: “Our residents have had a magical time being involved in the festival, preparing their trees in advance and visiting again for the opening.

“They had great fun looking through the collection knowing that hidden amid the sea of tinsel, lights and baubles they would find a tree of their very own.”