9th Dec 2020

The festive season will look very different for communities in County Durham this year and while families are allowed to form a Christmas bubble from 23rd – 27th December to spend time together in private homes, attend places of worship or meet in public outdoor spaces in all other settings you must follow the restrictions of your tier. This means that many long-running community activities are not able to take place this year in the way they normally would.

In light of these restrictions and as we have seen throughout 2020,  volunteer led organisations have once again risen to the challenge to find innovative ways to meet the needs of those they support and deliver seasonal cheer in their towns and villages whilst following COVID secure guidelines to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Some great examples of community activity include doorstop gigs from Jack Drum Arts such as drumming, dancing and festive storytelling. The Hub in Barnard Castle are organising doorstop visits from Santa as well as providing care package to vulnerable and isolated people in their community and UTASS have moved their annual Christmas Fair online for the first time.

Communities have taken inspiration from the rainbow window displays we have all became familiar with throughout the spring and summer and have put together ‘Advent Trails’ to help people stay active during winter months when being outside may not be so tempting. Others have initiated fundraising campaigns to put up impressive displays of Christmas lights, bringing a little brightness during the darker months.

While many community groups will not be able to bring people together to provide Christmas lunches in the traditional way this year, organisations such as PACT House have worked hard to be able to offer a takeaway or delivery option for the socially isolated and vulnerable in their community so that they are able to see a friendly face on Christmas day and receive a hot meal. Fishburn Youth and Community Centre have also arranged for Santa and his elves to deliver hampers to villagers to see them through the long festive break. 

As ever, our advice to organisations who are planning activities during COVID-19 is to follow the local restrictions and make sure that you complete thorough risk assessments. Don’t forget if you are planning a ‘Santa’s Grotto’ you should email Durham County Council here with details of your event and copies of your risk assessments and planned measures

While it is great to see so many activities taking place, we are well aware that there is still a need for emergency provision and that this has been exacerbated by the effects of COVID on those experiencing isolation or loss of income. The organisations providing these essential services are busier than ever. Durham County Council will make their emergency food provision app available over Christmas so that those in need and those supporting them can seek help. You can read more about this in our final newsletter of 2020 coming out on 17th December. 

As we go into 2021, volunteer led organisations in County Durham have demonstrated time and again their ability to meet the challenges 2020 brought. They have continued to provide valuable and much needed support in their communities and have adapted their services to carry on their work while making sure that their activities are COVID secure and follow the spirit of the guidance.   

While the new year is still uncertain for many groups, we are confident that the organisations we work with at Durham Community Action will continue to meet the challenges, adapt their services and implement innovative ways to support their communities.

If you have any queries about your festive activities or any plans you may have as we move into 2021 please do get in touch with us at info@durhamcommunityaction.org.uk and your enquiry will be forwarded to one of the team.

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