Lewis community groups which combat social isolation by putting on events and good craic for their senior citizens have enjoyed Christmas parties thanks to donations from Point and Sandwick Trust.
Point and Sandwick, the charity behind the community-owned wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag just outside Stornoway, donated nearly £2,000 to two community groups to help with the festivities.
Cairdean Og Allt nan Gall, one of the biggest and longest-running groups for the elderly on Lewis, received £1,000 towards the party in the Caladh Inn on December 5, attended by more than 40.
The Cairdean received a similar amount last year and the financial support from Point and Sandwick also makes it easier for them to lay on their summer trip to the mainland. This year, they stayed at the Crieff Hydro and visited the Scottish Parliament and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Cairdean chair Duncan Don said all these outings and celebrations were possible “because of the help from the Point and Sandwick Development Trust”.
The Cairdean has monthly get-togethers in Ionad Stoodie in Point and is usually attended by around 40 folk. There are 66 members altogether, who range in age from 60 to around 90 and come along from Branahuie up to Bayble and Garrabost.
Some of their other events include bus runs around the island, meals out, soup and pudding events in the hall and recently a show from the Stornoway Big Band.
They are “probably the largest group in the whole of Lewis and Harris” and put on “a lot of events on a regular basis”, said Duncan. “To be honest, if it wasn’t for our group, a lot of people in our group wouldn’t be able to do anything – because they’re elderly and they’ve got nowhere to go. That’s what makes a difference and that’s why Point and Sandwick support us.
“That money — had Point and Sandwick not donated it — would have been £1000 off our account and we’re saving like mad, trying to take them away on a mainland trip next year. We were at the Crieff Hydro this year. It was absolutely fantastic — but again that’s all with the help of Point and Sandwick Trust.”
Meanwhile, Tiumpeanhead Community Association received £800 towards their Christmas lunch, which was held on December 9 in the Community Centre at Aird.
Numbers were a little low this year, due to the bad weather, but a good time was still had by all — and those who were unable to attend will be getting a home visit and a present over the festive season.
Community association chair Grace Smith said the afternoon had been great, with a big dinner and “a dram or two or three”. The Lewis branch of the Clarsach Society provided musical accompaniment and there were some rounds of Christmas carols and games of ‘pass the parcel’ at the tables between courses.
Like the Cairdean, the community association sees inclusion as paramount. If anyone wanted to come but had no transport, “then we would go and get them”.
She said: “They all thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve had folk phoning me afterward, saying how much they enjoyed it. It was good craic, absolutely fantastic. They really enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed it because of that. The committee all mucked in and then afterwards the volunteers all got their Christmas dinner too. It was a lovely day. It was a long day but it was well worth it because they enjoyed it so much.”
The grant from Point and Sandwick helped cover all aspects of the day, from heating the community centre to paying for the gifts for ‘pass the parcel’ and the home visits.
Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said they were “very pleased” to help the groups, which provide “a social focus for people who may otherwise be isolated and lonely”.
Although Point and Sandwick provide big donations to worthy causes throughout the whole of the Western Isles – the biggest being the annual £55,000 to Bethesda Care Home and Hospice — he stressed the Trust would never lose sight of “projects on our own doorstep”, particularly when they provided “that essential element of social cohesion we are in danger of losing”.
At top and below, a selection of photographs from the Christmas parties