Looking back over the year 2020 – a year so profoundly characterised by its unpredictability – I find it heartening to reflect on the unwavering commitment of our dedicated teams in our residential rehabs across the country. Despite the challenges we have all faced this year, I am proud that we have remained a constant, reassuring and positive presence for those who needed our help and I am delighted that our four Phoenix Residential Services have been able to confidently say that we have remained open throughout the pandemic and we are Covid-safe during such unprecedented times.
As well as looking back over the tremendous work done in our residentials this year, I have also been catching up with our teams to find out what they are looking forward to. The festive season is fast approaching, and with it our staff and Community Members are serving up a delectable host of reasons to be cheerful.
Bringing festive cheer to our neighbours on the Wirral
The Wirral Residential Service have been warming up their vocal chords in preparation for Christmas this year.
Their choir, made up of staff and service users, will be bringing the festive cheer to their neighbours at a local care home by singing carols in their gardens on Christmas Eve.
“We wanted to do something special after the year we have all had. Care Homes across the country have stayed open and worked tirelessly to keep the people with them safe this year, so we thought it would be a nice surprise to make them smile.” Said Helen Brewin, Head of House at the Wirral Residential.
“We wanted to say thank you in our inimitable, Phoenix way and remind them that Christmas is still a time for people to be cheerful and come together – at an appropriate distance of course!”
A virtual Family celebration
Each year the children at the National Specialist Family Service help design the Phoenix Futures Christmas card, and this year is no exception. I spoke with Senior Childcare Worker Chloe Axelby about the service’s Christmas preparations and the inspiration behind this year’s card.
“This year’s design was inspired by the babies we have placed with us. We wanted them to be a part of the Christmas card so we thought why not use their tiny hands and feet to make a beautiful picture!” she said. “The parents painted their toes which was a lovely experience. It made the children giggle and we had lots of fun.”
Naturally this year has been challenging for a variety of reasons, however the families at Phoenix Futures have adapted around the government Covid guidelines to retain a sense of what makes Christmas so meaningful to them.
“The parents haven’t had the chance to go out and buy Christmas presents, so a lot of online shopping has been done! It’s also difficult as a lot of our parents haven’t had visits from their children who are not at the service due to lockdown. To help make this easier, we’ve introduced virtual visits and video calls for everyone to stay in touch.”
Chloe also spoke fondly of her memories of past Christmases at the Family Service, and was looking forward to this year’s celebrations.
“We aim to make Christmas special and happy for everyone” she said “the best way I can describe Christmas at Phoenix Family Service is lots of individual families coming together to make one big family where everyone celebrates, cooks, eats and shares special moments with each other.”
Glasgow’s got talent
Our Scottish Residential service are planning what is sure to be an unforgettable experience for their Community Members this December. They plan to host a music event, with performances from staff and residents taking place throughout the evening. Leading on these celebrations is therapeutic team member, Paul McGoldrick.
“Usually residents work together to learn songs and perform them for the community. In recent years we have had a lot of creative community members who write their own material so it’s an opportunity for them to showcase their talent.” Said Paul. “Often Community Members will write about their life before they came in and the process of change they are going through at Phoenix. It can be very powerful and moving, as well as being a fun event.”
Paul feels that one of the best things about having music events is the positive change he sees in the residents.
“They really respond well to this and enjoy themselves, I think it’s a great way for Community Members to develop relationships, find common interests and make connections that are unrelated to their experience of drug use.”
Sheffield deck the halls
Throughout December the Sheffield Residential are planning a number of homely events for their Community Members to help make the service look and feel like Christmas.
Creative groups will be used for making Christmas cards for loved ones, designing decorations for the house and, of course, decorating the tree. The members of the household with a culinary flair will also be taking to the kitchen to bake mince pies, gingerbread and many other festive favourites.
Across the month a watchlist of classic seasonal films will be posted on the noticeboard with their dates and times for our Community Members to look forward to. Musical groups will also take place, leading up to a Christmas concert. There will be board games, carols and Christmas songs around the tree, a buffet evening, Christmas karaoke and on Christmas day there will be presents to unwrap and a traditional dinner for every single person staying with us this holiday season.
“I’m definitely safer being at Phoenix Futures as my family are heavy drinkers, and I would have had to make a difficult decision not be with them and to isolate on my own.” Said Sophie, a resident at our Wirral Residential.
“Instead I’m with my Phoenix family where I feel supported and happy. For many years I have spent Christmas on my own, and I am really looking forward to having lots of fun and people around me where I am safe.”