First York has joined forces with Age UK York to bring festive fun to elderly and isolated people who have been especially impacted by the pandemic and lockdown during 2020.
The bus operator has designed a special Christmas-themed double-decker which will transport the charity’s volunteers as they personally deliver a Christmas stocking of donated gifts from local residents and retailers to more than 100 homes across the city.
Marc Bichtemann, Managing Director of First York, explained: “We wanted to support people in the community whose lives have been particularly affected by the pandemic and bring some Christmas cheer to those who may well be unable to experience the atmosphere of the festive season.”
He added: “We spoke with Age UK York and quickly realised that its plans for the Christmas stockings was the ideal match. Our Christmas bus travelling the streets of York and parked up outside homes will help create a spectacle which we hope will lift the spirits of the people we visit and add a sparkle to the amazing work of its volunteers.”
First York’s James Street depot team has gone all-out to decorate the bus interior with lights, tinsel and windows filled with Christmas images. Father Christmas will be driving and Age UK York’s volunteers will be supported in the Christmas stocking delivery by members of GoodGym, a local fitness group that combines exercise with doing good in the community.
Jenny Allott, Chief Officer for Age UK York, said: “There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a really difficult year, particularly for older people who have had to spend long periods in isolation. We are so pleased to have teamed up with First York, GoodGym and Fulford School to bring a little bit of Christmas spirit to older people who are isolated at home this Christmas.”
GoodGym York Area Activator, Michal Czekajlo, added: ”We are a community of people who combine keeping fit with doing good. It feels natural for us to be taking part in a project bringing Christmas cheer to socially isolated older people in York. Our runners can’t wait to get on the Christmas bus and begin delivering cards and gifts later this week.”
The operations team and schedulers at First York worked with Age UK York to devise a special route for the Christmas bus, which will be making the surprise deliveries to residents on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 December.