Bringing the Magic of Christmas to Cardiff’s Care Homes

Sophie Zermatten
5 min readNov 29, 2020


While people have been rushing to shops for Black Friday sales, Chris Bridgeman and the members of ‘Christmas for care homes’ are busy working on an ambitious project to distribute hundreds of presents to Cardiff’s elderly.

“Today is our 3-week anniversary and we have reached 900 members, which is fantastic, so thank you all.”

This was posted a few days ago by Chris, the founder of the Facebook group that has connected him with the hundreds of people that are bringing this project to life. Other posts include many pictures of carefully wrapped presents, that always come with a thank you message as well as many comments showing love and support — a true online community. “It wasn’t really planned, I’m learning as I go along. I set it up not expecting the response we had”, says Chris.

It all started out after he had a conversation with his daughter Tayla, who recently started a job as a care worker. She suggested it would be nice to do something that would brighten the holidays of elderly people, bearing in mind the COVID-19 restrictions that could prevent care home residents from seeing their family on Christmas, after what has already been a really harsh year for many.

Chris, whose own mother joined a care home in January and has only been able to see her family twice ever since, immediately got on board. “I would hate for people to sit there on Christmas Day while others around them open presents and they don’t have anything.“ Together, they crafted a project to visit care homes around Cardiff, bringing gifts to their residents and singing Christmas carols.

‘The Three Shades of Santa’ : Chris, his half-brother and a friend will all dress up as Father Christmas. His grandchildren will also join dressed as elves.

Chris has been really touched by the enthusiastic response he received. 70 members joined on the first day, and since then, numbers haven’t stopped growing. There are people from all ages, living in Cardiff but also in other places in the UK; some were inspired to set up similar projects in their own communities. One member from the United States has even asked if she could send a donation.

There are a lot of logistics required for such a large-scale project, especially a pandemic. Despite his full-time job as a college teacher, Chris has been working tirelessly to take care of every single detail involved. He has been contacting each care home individually to enquire about concerns such as parking facilities or whether they will have a safe place to perform their songs, even if that means staying in the garden where residents will be able to safely listen without risking contamination.

It is naturally very important for Chris to respect COVID-19 regulations, and therefore he aims to collect all the presents before the 10th of December. This will give him time to make sure that everything is wrapped up and sanitised. “Safety is a priority for us”, he ensures. “It has been a stressful, but very enjoyable process.”

To achieve this, he is counting on the help of around 10 volunteers, who have all offered to serve as drop-off points for the areas they live in. This will take a bit of weight off Chris and Tayla’s shoulders, by saving them considerable time driving around to collect donations.

Furthermore, in order to limit the risks of coming into contact with the population’s most vulnerable category, Chris had to turn down many people who wanted to participate in the distribution of presents, although he has nonetheless encouraged those who have relatives in care homes to join them in those places if they follow procedures.

In total, 16 care homes in Cardiff and Pontypridd will receive a visit by the 24th of December. So far, about 500 presents containing various items such as scarves, puzzles, candles, chocolates or slippers have been collected. Chris hasn’t given any specific instructions for their content, only suggesting that people donate items that the beneficiaries might find useful.

“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of the members. It came out of nowhere really. I was surprised how many people care, they really care.”

He has also asked the care home employees to distribute the presents as they see fit, so that the people who haven’t received as many presents from their loved ones may be favoured.

Presents waiting to be delivered

Chris has already planned to keep the Facebook group running, after seeing the amount of care he witnessed between its members. He wants it to be a community where people can feel free to share about their struggles and support each other. “Especially with everything going on, you can’t just knock at someone’s door and say let’s have a cup of tea and a chat. So it’s more important than ever to have a place to connect with like-minded people who care. It’s given everybody a connection point.”

He also hopes to keep carrying on the project in the years to come, and is confident that its impact can be ever greater with more time to prepare. His greatest wish is that the initiative spreads to as many places as possible.

With the challenging year we’re all having, the ‘Christmas for care homes’ project shows us that small community initiatives can snowball into an inspiring demonstration of human kindness. And that’s the magic of Christmas.

Want to get involved? Follow this link to the project’s Facebook group.



Sophie Zermatten

Writer, Journalist, Filmmaker