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Caring At Christmas is flying

GCA campaign to take festive card writing into care homes spreads across the UK

 

The GCA’s Caring At Christmas campaign is well underway with 21 industry folk already signed up to take festive cheer to people in 26 locations around the country who can’t get out to the shops – and there is still lots of time for others to get involved.

From Fortrose in the north of Scotland down to Hastings on the south coast, cardies will be taking supplies of Christmas designs into their local care homes and sitting down with residents to help them write to their loved ones and get the festive spirit underway.

Above: Matt Genower with Stormy Knight’s Sarah Jackson (left) and Paperlink’s Emma Young at the GCA Conference & AGM where publishers pledged their Caring At Christmas involvement
Above: Matt Genower with Stormy Knight’s Sarah Jackson (left) and Paperlink’s Emma Young at the GCA Conference & AGM where publishers pledged their Caring At Christmas involvement

Abacus Cards has kicked off the activity by making the first of several visits to retirement and care homes yesterday, 2 November, as md Nick Carey and studio manager Liz Ellis went to Cornwallis Court retirement home in Bury St Edmunds, taking the written and addressed cards away with them to post them on.
“I really enjoyed the whole experience,” Liz told PG Buzz. “They were very appreciative of the opportunity to select and write messages to members of their family – and were very complimentary about the cards we brought in!”
Nick added how he too found it a “humbling to play a part in their Christmas tradition of connecting with their loved ones. I’m looking forward to several more visits”.

Above & top: Cornwallis Court residents choose their cards and (far right) Nick and Liz get writing at Abacus
Above & top: Cornwallis Court residents choose their cards and (far right) Nick and Liz get writing at Abacus

The initiative came about as a result of Five Dollar Shake co-owner and md Matt Genower picking up a leaflet listing Christmas card writing as one of the activities for a pensioners’ association near the business in Hastings.

With his father-in-law recently taking up residence in a care home, Matt and the staff decided to ensure everyone could join in the spirit of the season by visiting a couple of local ones with a selection of Christmas cards.

“We offered an activity whereby residents could choose some cards to be sent to their loved ones,” Matt explained. “We helped them choose designs and write out the cards, addressing envelopes with them, there and then. We then offered to take their cards to be stamped/franked and duly posted.

“It was a real hit – the residents enjoyed choosing the cards and we had a great time chatting to them and helping to write their messages to their loved ones.”

Having shared his experiences in PG and realising this could be replicated by publishers and retailers in other areas, Matt shared how and why it worked on all levels with the GCA #Cardmitment committee, who immediately recognised its merits.

Above & top: The GCA is on board with Caring At Christmas – and Jimmy enjoyed writing his cards last year
Above & top: The GCA is on board with Caring At Christmas – and Jimmy enjoyed writing his cards last year

Matt reinforced: “Ultimately the initiative is about two things – showing the good that Christmas card writing does, and it’s genuinely a really lovely and rewarding activity to be a part of.

“Our two visits last year had a really positive impact. Our goal is to spread this right across the country, in as many care homes as possible – there is such an opportunity to spread the good that our industry can do.”

Already on board to spread the Caring At Christmas love in 2023 are Abacus (Bury St Edmunds, Chelmsford, and Newmarket); Cardology (Croydon); Carte Blanche Greetings (Chichester); Cherry Orchard (Canterbury and Tewkesbury); Five Dollar Shake (Hastings); GCA (Teddington); Max Publishing (Whitchurch); Ohh Deer (Loughborough); Paperlink (Lewes); Paper Salad (Manchester and Stockport), Penguin Ink (Bristol); Pink Pig Cards (Edinburgh); Raspberry Blossom (King’s Lynn and Royal Leamington Spa); Really Wild Cards (Kew); Ricicle Cards (Bristol); Roger La Borde (Swiss Cottage); Second Nature (Tring); Stormy Knight (Bristol); The Art File (Nottingham); Urghh Card Co (Fortrose); and Woodmansterne (Watford).

Above: Woodmansterne’s head of marketing Kate Leach (left) got things rolling during TOYW by visiting local care home Bushey House Beaumont
Above: Woodmansterne’s head of marketing Kate Leach (left) got things rolling during TOYW by visiting local care home Bushey House Beaumont

The GCA would love as many other publishers and industry folk to get involved as possible, with Matt explaining that he found it easier to deal with homes caring for 25 or more residents as most have someone who organises activities and it gives a good number of people who want to take part.

He added that they ensured a variety of designs were available, taking in around 80 to each home with most residents writing around three cards each – more of Matt’s tips, such as making it fun by wearing that daft Christmas jumper, and hooking up with another publisher to offer a variety of designs, can be found on the GCA website.

Above: The downloadable flyer to advertise the writing activity to residents
Above: The downloadable flyer to advertise the writing activity to residents

With 400,000 elderly residents in over 11,000 care homes across the UK, they’re always looking for interesting activities so there’s still time to contact them and organise an activity date leaving plenty of space in the calendar for the cards to get through the post, and the GCA website has downloadable letter and email templates to contact the care staff along with flyer to advertise the event.

And do let the GCA know which homes you’re visiting by emailing adriana@gca.cards and make sure to get permission to take pictures which you can share with the association as well as local media.

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