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Tree of Light charity ‘shines a light on loneliness’

A BEFRIENDING charity in Southampton has officially launched its 15th annual Tree of Light Christmas fundraising and awareness campaign – pledging to ‘shine a light on loneliness’ in the city (November 2023).

Through its sponsored Christmas lights, each one commemorating a loved one or special cause, and its festive switch-on events on December 2 and 3, Communicare hopes to help eradicate loneliness.

Manager, Annie Clewlow says: “We’re delighted to be launching our 15th annual Tree of Light campaign and to announce that we have two, free, Christmas tree light-up events, one in Woolston Millennium Garden and another at St. Mark’s Church, Archers Road, which we’d like to invite everyone along to.

“These promise to be celebratory occasions and represent the chance to highlight and shine a light on issues related to loneliness, especially at this time of year. We’re thrilled that the city’s 801st Right Worshipful Mayor of Southampton, and second The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Valerie Laurent will be joining us to flick the switch in Woolston and that the Sheriff, Councillor Dave Shields, will be with us at St Marks.”

Hundreds of sponsored Christmas lights, commemorating loved ones and special causes, will cover one of the beautiful pines in Woolston Millennium Garden and a tree at St. Mark’s Church, Archers Road.

Annie continues: “By sponsoring the lights on our trees, people can remember a lost loved-one at Christmas or mark something special. Each light also helps support our charity, which befriends people in communities city-wide. Our mission is to eradicate loneliness and isolation, which are becoming more and more of a problem for people of all ages.

“Along with our band of Communiteers, who give their time and support on a voluntary basis, we’re working hard to eliminate what has been dubbed society’s ‘silent epidemic’ through our various Good Neighbour initiatives.

“We’re hoping, once again this year, that lots of people pay for a light on one of our trees, so we can continue to help those who would like to see a friendly face on a regular basis for a chat or to assist them with simple tasks like shopping.”

Anyone who would like to sponsor a light is asked to make a minimum donation of £8. The names of those being remembered will be recorded in a remembrance book and published on the charity’s website. People can also send photographs, short poems/verses or a tribute for inclusion in the book.

Annie adds: “We’d also love it if people came along to one of our free Tree of Light switch-ons on Saturday, December 2 at 5pm for 5.30pm in the Woolston Millennium Garden or at St Mark’s Church on Archers Road on Sunday, December 3 at 4pm for 5.30pm. Everyone is welcome to these joyous events regardless of whether they donate.

“On the Saturday at Woolston Millennium Garden we’ve carols around the tree led by The Rising Stars from 5pm. Bring a lantern if you’d like! Then on the Sunday, come along to St Mark’s Church, Archers Road from 4pm. We’ll have craft activities before the switch on from 4-5pm, plus refreshments and carols with HAMWIC Brass Band from 5pm. Both events are free. No booking required.”

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