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Lonely This Christmas

Christmas isn't a warm celebration surrounded by family and friends for everyone.

For some it can be the toughest time of the year.

The ElderlyThe Homeless | Mental Health

The elderly 

Leading up to the festive season in 2015 a report by UK Surrey said more than a million older people have not spoken to a friend, neighbour or family for at least a month.

Some simply don't have anyone to spend the season with - but there is support out there. 

Last year Guildford Cathedral was among a number of organisations to put on community lunches and activities to bring the elderly together and celebrate.

Park Barn Social Centre Christmas Party

Guildford Borough Council also supports older people in the area. 

To find out more about the services on offer to help older people across the borough, and to register call (01483) 505050 or visit www.guildford.gov.uk/helpforolderpeople

Are you putting on an event for the elderly this season?

Let us know

The homeless

Imagine spending your Christmas on the streets, with no family, food or fun - sadly for some that is a reality.

Each year charities and community groups come together to provide for those in need.

Whether it's delivering food, putting on a meal or activity to get them out of the cold for a while, or even offering temporary housing, these generous efforts make a big difference.


Last year Step by Step in Aldershot, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, put on a Christmas lunch for everyone staying at their accommodation.

Not only did they do this, but also in true festive spirit handed out presents as well.

Meanwhile The Knights Foundation in Camberley put the roof over the heads of ten homeless people in the area.

Are you part of an organisation helping the homeless this season?

 Let us know

 Armed forces and veterans 

Surrey and Hampshire is home to a number of armed forces personnel and veterans.

Take Martin's story - from Farnborough - for example.

We think he is a true inspiration - now he faces one more hurdle - Christmas without his loved one.


Former soldier from Farnborough scoops medals at British Indoor Rowing Championships

A former Lance Corporal from Farnborough is using sport to help him deal with a life changing injury he suffered in Afghanistan.

Martin Tye has just enjoyed success at the British Indoor Rowing Championships at the Lee Valley VeloPark, London on Saturday 10 Dec.

He scooped the Men’s Rowability Fixed Seat event, as well as the adaptive relay 4km event representing Guildford Rowing Club.

But is hasn't been an easy journey.

Martin served with The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment and served tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq, the Falklands, Cyprus and in Afghanistan.

He joined the military because he liked the idea of travelling, visiting different countries and cultures – and of his own admission “to do something with my life, and to grow up”.

It was whilst in Afghanistan that he sustained injuries that have changed his life.

Martin Tye with medals

Martin was driving with colleagues when a suicide bomber drove into their vehicle causing devastation.

Martin woke up from a coma in Selly Oak hospital, dazed and very confused as to what had happened to him.

He spent a long time in hospital, his voice box shut down and he was unable to eat or drink without drowning his lungs.

After a long time at Selly Oak he was transferred to Headley Court to begin his rehabilitation.

The injury has had a huge impact on his life and he is unable to walk without severe and debilitating pain – leaving him wheelchair bound.

He also has severe PTSD which affects him in day-to-day life leaving him often feeling guilty.

Through sport Martin has found something that helps him relieve some of the troubles associated with his physical and psychological challenges.

“Sport helps me interact with other people, I feel a lot more confident. When I was first injured I pushed a lot of my colleagues, friends and family away, and now I feel like I’m coming out the other side.”

Martin Tye with his Guildford Rowing Club relay team mates

Help for Heroes fielded a group of competitors from a grassroots to performance level – showing the true nature of Sports Recovery.

Martin has been rowing with Guildford Rowing Club for around two years now – he says it acts as a positive outlet for aggression, as well as being a good way of socialising.

He said: “When I get on the water my pain is eased, my worries move away and I’m focused on what I’m doing, and it’s like meditation.”

Now he faces Christmas away from his partner who is serving in Kabul and will be away over the festive period.

He plans to channel his positive energy and continue to focus on training: “Sport is better than any drug, even on my worst day when I’m rowing I mellow out, worry less and I’m calmer and feel more able to deal with life.”

Martin is enjoying training for the Invictus Games next year, in the hope of competing in rowing, wheelchair rugby, power-lifting and field events.

To anyone that is sat at home wondering how to move forward this Christmas, Martin says: “I understand how hard it is to walk through the doors for the first time, but once you’ve passed that the comradery comes back – just go for it.”

Mental health and well being 

Getting support in the festive season.

Christmas can be a challenging time of year for those living with a mental health condition.

Whether you are struggling, or supporting someone who is struggling, there are ways you can find support and information during the holidays:

  • Elefriends 

    "A safe place to listen, share and be heard."
  • Samaritans 

    Is available to talk 24/7 about whatever is on your mind.
  • Mind

    You can call the Mind info line for information on treatments and where to get help.

 mental health

Five tips to make Christmas easier on your mental well being.

1. Honesty

Try to be honest with people if you’re finding things overwhelming and don't want to get involved in everything.

Don’t be afraid to cancel plans if you’re not feeling up to it. 


2. Press pause

Remember you can only do so much, stop if it’s becoming too much.

Make sure you have a day to hang out at home in your pyjamas - it's what winter holidays are for!


3. Get out

Don't be house-bound either! We eat and drink a lot at Christmas - go for a brisk walk with loved ones!


4. Don’t believe the hype

Don't compare yourself and your Christmas with an ideal.

TV shows, adverts, social media... they all set a scene - but not one of them is perfect.

Christmas is about doing things your own way; so create your own memories and follow your own traditions. 


5. Give yourself a present

Make sure you take some time out after Christmas to do something you really want.