Camping, seaside trips, kids’ clubs, getting out on your bike – the summer holidays are a period of endless fun for youngsters.
But if you’re elderly, infirm, and live alone, the opportunities to get involved in a little sunshine social interaction can be very limited.
You might hear those children laughing and playing on the streets from inside your home, but you might not go outside, or speak to another person, all day.
And that’s why St John’s Church in Boxmoor decided there should be something available for the old and lonely so that they can enjoy the summer, as well as some much-needed company.
Around seven years ago, worshipper at the church Jean Garner organised a week of activities she called Holiday At Home.
The community project became a tradition which now takes place annually, and can accommodate up to 30 people.
With a band of 25 volunteers, including men from the church who pick up the holiday-goers from their home each morning and drop them back later in the day, the scheme provides a ‘mini-break in Boxmoor’ for those who may otherwise be unable to have a proper holiday.
Jean said: “We have a lot of elderly people in our parish who live on their own and can’t get out.
“We feel that our main role as a church in the middle of Boxmoor is to reach out into the community.
“We always have a lovely time, everybody has been friendly and we are really happy with it.”
Of the 30 people on this year’s highly popular four-day scheme, which took place last week, Jean thinks more than half are over 90.
One happy camper Joan Brittan, who describes herself as a young and lively 90, said: “There is a tremendous variety of activities.
“We start with some quiet time to look through the newspapers when we arrive, and we were given postcards of Boxmoor to write out and send to friends and family, telling them about our holiday at home.
“It is a marvellous idea.”
When organisers had to think on their feet to set up an activity at the last minute during this year’s holiday, they arranged a reminiscence morning in which everyone involved shared stories and pictures of their schooldays long ago.
This culminated in an old-fashioned singalong, and some members of the club recited poems.
Other activities throughout the week included an easy-going keep fit class run by a volunteer who comes yearly, wine-glass painting, a film showing and a mystery coach tour.
This year’s outing took the holiday-makers around the Dunstable Downs and on to Woburn Sands, where they enjoyed an afternoon tea.
Each member of the group pays just £30 for the entire holiday, which includes a daily lunch cooked by volunteers in the church hall’s kitchen.
Volunteers say the week makes a huge difference in the lives of many holiday-goers, some of whom have a higher level of dependency than others.
It is also hoped that the idea could spread to other churches, so that more people can benefit from the simple project which means so much to those involved.