The York Cares team, from left to right, Georgia Gibbons, Kali Klimentova, Megan Wilkinson, Holly Hennell, Hannah Corkery and Ebba Wadlan.

Employee-volunteering charity York Cares is helping to tackle loneliness with its Shimmer and Shine Club party which took place on the 12th December.

The Shimmer and Shine Club brought together over 70 older and younger people from across the city at the De Grey rooms for an afternoon of singing, dancing and festive crafts as well as a festive buffet lunch, provided by the University of York’s Campus Kitchen.

In response to a 2020 national survey, 25.7% of York residents who responded reported that they feel lonely always, often or some of the time. The Shimmer and Shine Social Club aimed to reduce social loneliness and social isolation by bringing people together to have a shared experience and enjoy some festive cheer.

The event was organised by York Cares volunteering project officers, Megan Wilkinson and Kali Klimentova, with the support of Alison Dawson, social action program manager at The Belfry.


Megan Wilkinson, volunteering project officer at York Cares says: “Loneliness and social isolation is a big problem and one that we can do something about. We wanted to host our Shimmer and Shine Festive Social Club as an opportunity to bring older and younger York residents together to share fun, laughter and friendship. The event enabled us to bring together those who have taken part in our Social Clubs over the past 12 months as well as introduce new people to the program. Christmas is one that many spend with family, however, that isn’t the case for all. That is why it is important that we bring people together to celebrate the festive period as we know that many may not otherwise have someone to celebrate with.”

In the true spirit of Christmas, the event was made possible by the generosity of donors, whose support allowed York Cares to provide food and activities for those attending.

Holly Hennell, manager at York Cares says: “As a small charity, we rely on our partners to support large events such as these. We are particularly grateful to The Belfrey, the Shepherd Group, Monitor Software and the University of York, without whom the event would not have happened. Thanks also need to go to all the employee-volunteers from Aviva, Benenden Health, boxxe, City of York Council, Nestle, Portakabin, Systra, University of York and York St John University who gave their time to ensure the event ran smoothly.”

Making a vibrant backdrop for the event, The De Grey Rooms were adorned with colourful decorations that had been created by York Cares employee-volunteers. Attendees enjoyed a barn dancing taster led by Phil Quin of Strictly Fun Dancing, a performance from Aviva’s Wellbeing Choir and festive crafts from Dandelion Arts.

With aspirations to continue fostering such connections, York Cares looks forward to future Social Clubs in 2024 that promise to spread even more ripples of connection across communities.