Christmas is a time for coming together, a time for reunions, a time indeed, for blessings. So we feel it is fitting to start off our 12 Carers of Christmas with someone who followed a falling star into care back in 2017. 

Kelly Kennedy Smith started working for Haverhill Community Care 2 years ago. Despite it being her first time working in care she wasted no time getting started. Kelly immediately threw herself into organising activities and events for their service users. She quickly recognised the debilitating effects of loneliness and isolation.

Kelly soon saw the opportunity to do even more for her local community. She worked alongside colleagues from Haverhill to renovate two old classrooms into a community hub. This helped to bring together people who suffer from dementia and social isolation. 

The ‘Memories are Golden’ Community centre has subsequently grown into a hive of activity and love since it was established. Kelly has taken over the role of Community Hub manager and seen Memories are Golden go from strength to strength.

Running a voluntary community centre is no mean feat. Kelly is a master of organising and motivating people to help out. Whether is it the DIY SOS team who renovated the hub, family members being driven to car boot sales, or raising funds through the ancient British arts of bingo and bake sales, Kelly and her team find a way to keep Memories are Golden going. 

We could happily keep describing all the ways Kelly has redefined care in her local area. However, in these situations it’s better to let the beneficiaries speak for themselves.

This is a letter one resident’s relative sent in about how much Memories are Golden means to them:

[Dad] has been attending this amazing group on a Tuesday and Thursday for about 6 weeks and they asked him what he enjoyed doing and he said, “painting”. Dad hasn’t picked up a paint brush for about 7 years. I have tried encouraging him to but he just wasn’t interested. Well, the amazing Kelly Kennedy-Smith went shopping and brought him this canvas with the outlines on. Dad painted it with absolute perfection and detail. It made me so happy to see his face when he showed me, he was so proud.

This group is just amazing. In just these few weeks my dad is laughing, eating, painting, playing games and the best thing of all [is that] he gives all the people that run this AMAZING group “banter”………. BANTER! I tell you I haven’t seen Dad like this for years! So thank you all at the group for bringing a bit of my Dad back to life. 

I don’t want anything for Christmas I have it all in his pictures. Thank you to you all – my new year’s resolution is to raise money any way I can to help this FANTASTIC AMAZING FRIENDLY CARING group. I love you all and so does Dad xx

This is but one story in hundreds, and we encourage you to check out Memories are Golden’s Facebook page if you ever find yourself needing some cheering up over the holidays. Thank you Kelly Kennedy-Smith for being you, and for letting so many people be blessed by it.