Northern Beaches charity MWP Care held a Christmas lunch at The Beach Club Collaroy to combat social isolation.

The idea for a Christmas lunch came after MWP Care CEO Matt Adderton (main image) realised that the social isolation everyone went through during the COVID pandemic was an ongoing and constant reality for many of their clients.

“When you look at lockdown, you could only leave if you were doing shopping, if you had a medical appointment. That is our audience. They are in constant lockdown, we got out of it, but they didn’t.

“They don’t have family close, they can’t jump in a car and go somewhere. They’re not able enough to get to the bus to go to the shops or wherever it may be. Then when it comes Christmas Day, they’re alone.

“We received a generous donation from the Elanora Heights Christmas Markets. We sat down and said, ‘What do we do with that?’ and immediately we said, ‘give it back to the community’.

“This lunch came from that. Everybody is so excited to be here. We thought we’d get a few people along, but we filled the venue and we had a waitlist.

“Our whole team wanted to do something at a time of year when a lot of elderly people are alone. Speaking to some of our clients I picked up to bring here, they’re not doing anything Christmas Day. For them, this is Christmas Day,” said Mr Adderton.

MWP Care Christmas lunch at the Collaroy Beach Club

Mr Adderton highlighted the Christmas lunch had also offered an opportunity to bring their wider care community together.

“The spirit of people is just amazing. They are mingling and meeting people. We have got people who have developed friendships over group outings that normally wouldn’t be able to get together at this time of year.

“What’s great about this is we have a Chinese group, a Filipino group, we have Italians and Serbs, they’re all here. Normally, they don’t really mingle with everybody, because they do their own groups. This is a great way to have a good mixture of our clients come along, and mix with everybody. It’s a broad range of people, which is fantastic,” said Mr Adderton.

Ted Blackwood at the MWP Care Christmas lunch at the Collaroy Beach Club

One of those attending the lunch was local legend Ted Blackwood (image above), after whom the Ted Blackwood Narrabeen Youth and Community Centre at Warriewood, is named. Mr Blackwood explained that once a volunteer for MWP Care, he had since ‘graduated’ to client status.

“Many years ago I used to drive and go on the trips, and I used to help with the cooking and things like that. I enjoyed it over the years. Now I have people coming to help me with a bit of work for me, maintenance and carpentry.

“I like the way things are run to the great bunch of people you know, and they’ve done a lot of great things. A day like today is excellent, it gets people together. You meet people you haven’t seen for years,” shared Mr Blackwood.

Pittwater MP Rory Amon joins an MWP Care exercise class

Mr Adderton revealed the need to combat social isolation was turning the MWP Care office at Gondola Road, North Narrabeen, into a community hub.

“We’ve got exercise classes now and we’ve got morning teas for the different groups as well. We want to do more of that, so people feel they have got somewhere to go.

“Exercise has been such a popular program. We would love to try and extend that and have a group at Newport and one at Manly somewhere so the people that can’t get to Narrabeen can do it there. We spoke with Deputy Mayor Georgia Ryburn, who loves the idea and [Pittwater MP] Rory Amon has been as well.

“Rory came in for an exercise class, I expected him to turn up and just, I suppose, be part of it. But he was in his gear and did the whole class, it was amazing.

“People are asking if we can do classes in other areas they can more easily get to. The classes help with a number of things, muscle mass, flexibility and balance. One lady said to me that after only three classes she was already doing more, which is great,” said Mr Adderton.

Matt Adderton and Chloe Ferris from MWP Care in their home services workshop

Another function of MWP Care is to keep older people in their homes as long as possible, and Mr Adderton says home maintenance services is a ‘silent’ part of their work.

“From a mental health point of view, they want to be in their home, which is where they feel safest. It’s where they have their memories, and a lot of them are memories that are with a partner that’s no longer with them. They don’t want to leave that and go somewhere else.

“One of our areas that is probably more silent than the others is our building services. A lot of these people have grab rails or ramps. We have been fixing decks this year. There was one where we asked about a doormat in the middle of the deck and she said, ‘I know not to step there, because there’s a hole in it’. This was the main entrance to her house,” explained Mr Adderton.

MWP Care, which stands for Manly, Warringah, Pittwater, is a registered not-for-profit Australian charity based at 3 Gondola Road, North Narrabeen, that provides community support services to people on the Northern Beaches. They are seeking community volunteers to assist with a range of activities from shopping for an elderly person to helping with home maintenance. Contact them by email or on 02 9913 3244 during business hours (Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 4.00pm) for further information.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate, Rory Amon MP

Sue Heins, Rory Amon, Matt Adderton, Ruth Robins

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