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Christmas comes early for Poplar HARCA’s elderly residents and dedicated volunteers


Every year, Poplar HARCA puts on a Christmas Lunch event for elderly residents with a Christmas dinner, musical performances and the infamous raffle. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the event couldn’t go ahead this year, so instead Poplar HARCA staff and dedicated volunteers brought Christmas cheer to elders’ doors on Thursday 17th December.

100 elderly residents, identified as vulnerable by Poplar HARCA, were hand-delivered a Christmas dinner and a hamper by Poplar HARCA staff and local volunteers.

The Christmas lunches, containing a full roast dinner, Christmas pudding and drinks, were prepared by Bow Brew Café and Spotlight Café, which both operate from Poplar HARCA community centres. The hampers, containing toiletries, blankets, tinned food, puzzles and chocolate treats, were donated by East End Community Foundation (EECF).

Children from local primary schools Culloden, Clara Grant, Manorfield and Stebon School also created handmade Christmas cards which were included in the hampers – to put a smile on elderly residents’ faces.

The Christmas joy was overwhelmingly well-received by the elderly. Many have been shielding or isolating for many months, and may not be able to spend time with their families this year.

George Woods, 96 year-old Poplar HARCA Resident, said: “I was very happy to receive this gift. It makes you feel people are thinking of you and you’re wanted.”

Ivy, 95 year-old Poplar HARCA Resident, said: “I was down in the dumps yesterday. This made me feel warm and happy.”

On Wednesday 16th December, Poplar HARCA staff also distributed 54 Christmas hampers, with brownies from Cutter & Squidge, to say a big ‘thank you’ to volunteers for their vital contributions during the pandemic. Volunteers have supported the community by helping run food banks and calling vulnerable residents.

Miranda Clark, Volunteer with Poplar HARCA, said: “Volunteering with HARCA has been a fantastic way to stay connected to and help out other people nearby during lockdown. It has been a very positive experience.”

Sandra Amory, Volunteer with Poplar HARCA, said: “Thank you very much for the gift. It is a very nice gesture and very much appreciated especially as it was delivered in person.”

During the pandemic, with help from volunteers, Poplar HARCA has prepared more than 15,000 hot meals, given away 4,000 food packs, and launched the Covid and Isolation Support Hub.

Babu Bhattacherjee, Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at Poplar HARCA, said: “The elderly and vulnerable members of our community have faced months of isolation and hardship. Many will not see their families over the Christmas period, and this made us determined to ensure that our residents did not miss out on their Christmas celebration. We also wanted to give a token of thanks to our volunteers who have made incredible things happen this year – we simply couldn’t have supported our community in many ways without them.” 


“I was very happy to receive this gift. It makes you feel people are thinking of you and you’re wanted.”

George Woods, 96 year-old resident