MFRS helps Operation Christmas lunch swing into action

Up to a hundred vulnerable older people across Wirral will get to enjoy a traditional Christmas Day lunch this year after local organisations cooked up a plan to deliver a hot turkey roast with all the trimmings to their doorsteps.

Dubbed Operation Christmas Lunch, the initiative is being led by Age UK Wirral in partnership Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS), SP Energy Networks and Wirral Council.

Festive meals will be prepared in six cafes and restaurants across Wirral, before being delivered in special ‘hot bags’ by volunteers and MFRS fire crews to older people who are mostly on their own in all parts of the borough.

The deliveries, which will be done safely using appropriate protection, will include a personal Christmas card designed by MFRS Prince’s Trust Team members, and small gift donated by Wirral primary schools and members of the public.

Jenny Paton, Deputy CEO of Age UK Wirral, said: “We usually invite local older people for a Christmas Day Dinner at our offices in Claughton so that they don't have to be alone. Even though this isn't possible this year, we wanted to make sure people know they are not forgotten. Christmas day can be a difficult time to spend alone, and we are delighted to have had such amazing support from restaurants, cafes and local volunteers to bring a little treat to those that deserve it.”

The project has been made possible thanks to donations from Age UK Wirral’s supporters and a grant from Wirral’s COVID Winter Fund, set aside from its £1.2m COVID Winter Grant Scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Leader of Wirral Council, Councillor Janette Williamson, said: “Although these deliveries are a small part of a massive local effort to support our most vulnerable residents through the winter months, Christmas lunch is an important part of the festivities, so I hope everyone enjoys their meal and it helps to make it a very merry Christmas.”

MFRS crews also playing a key part to bring a little cheer to older residents, with Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan delivering dinners, along with Station Manager Nick McCormack of MFRS Fire Prevention Department and on-duty fire crews and off-duty volunteer staff.

Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan said: “Each year, MFRS visits the homes of more than 50,000 people and while our community fire prevention work has looked very different this year, we have continued to work closely with partner agencies to ensure the older and more vulnerable members of the community are safe and importantly well in their homes.

“Our staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help those in need. They have delivered thousands of medical prescriptions and food parcels to those who were shielding or isolating so I am delighted that our staff have stepped up once again to take part in this fantastic project in partnership with Wirral Council, Age UK and SP Energy Networks.

“Christmas time for most of us will be spent with our loved ones but we know that some people, particularly as they grow older, will find themselves with no friends or family to spend Christmas with. It’s vitally important that we do not forget them and we do everything we can to ensure they are safe and well, not just at Christmas, but all year round.”