Experience the true spirit of Christmas on 25th December when The Alexandra in Wimbledon opens its doors offering a free Christmas dinner and drink to guests struggling with loneliness. Find out more from our Culture Editor Janie Smith…
December has arrived in Wimbledon bringing with it the joys of Christmas; community fun, gifts under the tree, cards through the letter box and sharing food with family and friends. For many, however, Christmas and the thought of celebration is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Chronic loneliness is a twenty first century epidemic with 5% of UK adults reporting to be lonely often or always. The 16 to 24 age group along with the elderly are most affected. Not only is it isolating but increases the chances of having poor physical and mental health.
However, thanks to some amazing folk, Wimbledon residents will experience the true spirit of Christmas on 25th December when The Alexandra opens its doors offering a free Christmas dinner and drink to guests struggling with loneliness. For Mick and Sarah Dore along with their staff this will be their ninth year of seasonal goodwill. As pioneers of this initiative, no corners are cut. Every little detail is considered, for example, guests are greeted personally and sat with likeminded people so that not one of them needs to fear being on their own.
Mick and Sarah were inspired one Christmas Day after opening The Alex to offer lonely locals a free drink. Legend has it that at the end of the afternoon Mick struck up a conversation with a retired Naval Officer. Knowing he had no one to go home to Mick invited him to Christmas lunch with his family and staff. The Officer politely refused saying that he had somewhere to go, of course, he didn’t. This was the moment they realised that loneliness carried a social stigma; one they wanted to end, and so, the free Christmas Dinner event came into fruition! Last year around 100 lunches were served!
In 2018 they started what has become a nationwide sensation; Meet up Mondays, a weekly get together where those who feel alone can make friends and have something to look forward to. After all, loneliness isn’t just for Christmas.
London may be recorded as the loneliest city in the UK but here, in Wimbledon, The Alexandra has become the heart of our very special community.
Merry Christmas, every one of you!
Editor: Janie Smith | Arts & Culture Editor