A magical Christmas evening organised
By Becci Barker
A Facebook message for help brought this wonderful idea to my attention.
The thought of offering a little help to make Becci achieve her goal to provide the best Christmas for the residents that she works with after a really tough year was so inspiring. Becci is one of the world’s biggest givers, she does so much for others without thinking of the hard work that it entails, she goes ahead and makes the time to achieve the best for all.
Becci is one of Rothwell’s superstars.
Can you tell us about you and the place where you work?
I work in Day services for Aspire Community Benefit Society (CBS) but I have been based in the supported living across the road, which is also an Aspire CBS building. I have been delivering activities three days a week in the supported living and then two days a week from home, working behind the scenes on the online timetable.
I provide one musical theatre class a week and one music and exercise class, both lasting around 40-50 minutes. The musical theatre class is learning a song, dance or a song and dance routine. I also host Rock and Roll bingo once a week via Zoom. We have 3 different sets, musicals, Disney and TV we also have a Christmas one which we play throughout the whole of December. This and lots more are available on our online timetable on the website, www.aspirecbs.org.uk.
What made you decide to do this magical Christmas evening?
Due to Covid and lockdown, the residents who live at Holmsley, or in any of our supported living services are not allowed to go to their family to visit at Christmas. This is due to people being high risk and we’re following the government guidelines to ensure everyone keeps safe and well. The guys who live here have been very resilient during the pandemic and have only been allowed to go out for local walks apart from the socially distanced, Covid safe activities that I have been providing throughout.
I decided I wanted to bring a little bit of Christmas magic to them, by lighting up their communal garden. I thought, let’s make this Christmas the best one they have ever had due to the fact that they can’t go and see their families.
Throughout the pandemic, the guys who live here don’t usually spend a lot of time together as they all do different things in their ‘normal weeks’ and they have become a proper family and we have all learned new things about each other that we didn’t know.
You put a post out for the people in Rothwell to help, did they respond and in what way?
I decided to put a post on my personal Facebook (I run one for work and I run the main Aspire CBS Facebook page along with other staff). This was just to see if anyone local could help me out and very kindly lend us any kind of Christmas lights for one evening. The response blew me away. Many people shared the post for me to try to see what they could do to help. We had light-up reindeers, trains, presents and even an 8ft light up inflatable Homer Simpson Santa! We also had donated to us a Santa’s sleigh rope light, and lots of other rope lights from some friends, which we used to decorate our homemade Santa’s grotto! Then of course the gift card from you for The Range, with which we purchased three light up trees and the two snowmen and the slow cooker for hot chocolate on the night.
How did you manage to organise the evening and keep it a surprise?
I explained to the residents that we were going to have socially distanced music, food and drink in the garden on 11 December but there were some added surprises. I explained that they were not to come outside until a member of the team who was on shift that night came to get them otherwise it would spoil the surprise for them. I hoped that they would listen and they did it worked! We all had hotdogs and chips indoors for tea and then everyone sat out socially distanced and we did a 3,2,1 and switched the lights on and music. We had cake, snowballs and slow cooker hot chocolate!
What did the residents think of the evening? Do you have any quotes from them?
Everyone loved it! We had people who don’t usually join in with activities who came and stayed out for the whole 2 & ½ hours that we were outside, dancing, cake, snowballs, Santa.
Sara: “Thank you for tonight it was fabulous”
Simon: “We have Christmas lights, I love it!”
Daryl: “It’s Santa!”
Kev: “I’m Happy now!”
The pictures and video say it all I think. Everyone was so happy and full of joy and they all felt the Christmas Spirit.
I know when I watched the video and looked at the pictures it put a smile on my face. How did you feel before the event, during and after? Would you do it again?
Incredible. It took a lot of organising as I did all the food and drink, the music, the lights, collecting the lights, sorting out costumes for some of the residents (the Christmas Tree outfit Heather is wearing I made myself by hand!) getting staffs costumes sorted, slow cookers and the rest!
I am incredibly thankful to Steph and Lisa from the team as they were Santa and his Elf and I was the Christmas Fairy all in our PPE of course, even Santa had his mask on under his beard! Also, a thank you to Jane and Margaret who were on that night and cooked all the food! Lauren for baking brownies and flapjacks and Ian for supporting all the customers making sure they were seated safely and separately.
Due to good organisational skills, the night went as smoothly as it could’ve done and the answer is YES 100% I would do it again! To see the smiles and joy it brought to people was worth every single second of organising. Same time next year?