Christmas is normally a time of great excitement at Nightingales, the coffee shop houses a Santa’s grotto, the young people enjoy making special Christmas meals and celebrating together. For many of the beneficiaries of the at girls at risk and the mentoring of young men programs, the gifts they receive from Nightingales are the only gifts that they receive during the Christmas period. The differently abled adults enjoy the run up to Christmas, the decorating of the house, the thoughts about the gifts that they will receive, and the fun Christmas meal with a large number of the beneficiaries from the house and those in independent units in the town, alongside our long-term volunteers and their family. It is a time of great joy, lots of laughter and fun is had by all.
2020 was a Covid Christmas, Cernavoda was in lockdown from the end of November till the 26th of December. This meant that the coffee shop was not open, and we could not open the Santa’s grotto, which was such a shame. We then planned to set up the decorations at the house for our differently abled adults, but this plan had to change as our key workers for the house had to isolate due to one of them testing positive for Covid-19, due to the regulations we have in place at the charity no-one else tested positive. So it was a quiet Christmas for the guys in the differently abled house, they had a lovely Christmas meal all together, thanks to so amazingly generous local families who donated money so that they could have a Christmas Feast. Their gifts were bought before the key-worker family went into isolation, so they also had presents to open under the Christmas tree on the 25th. The young people from this project who live in independent living due to the restrictions were unable to come and spend the day with them, but after the 26th this was possible for them all to get together. Only the two girls from the flat were able to, because they are in the same bubble as the house.
The beneficiaries of the other projects sadly were not able to celebrate in the same way as other years. The gifts that had been bought could not be delivered to the girls and boys. The Christmas meal was cancelled, and we were only able to be in contact with those who have access to the internet at home, not that many. The girls at risk were able to celebrate in January before the school term restarted, as the restrictions of lockdown were no longer in place in the town, they loved the gifts and also got a ski suit each from a very generous family from Wiltshire, who are connected with the school Dauntsey’s. The boys are hoping to be able to have a large get together this year, but it will probably be a summer celebration rather than Christmas.
Although it was a very different, ‘Covid Christmas’ at Nightingales, the joy of seeing the young people together, seeing their joy at receiving some very simple gifts was huge. This we were able to do through the amazing generosity of people through the Nightingales Shop, where people bought a Christmas present for the Nightingales beneficiaries. This generosity, helped put smiles on faces and allowed the young people we work with to enjoy being children even if it was just for a while. Seeing the girls playing with their dolls at the charity, for two of the girls at the age of 8 these were the first dolls they had ever had, and they kept calling them their children. So even though it was hard and different we still managed with your help to spread some of the joy of Christmas this year.