By Matt Saunders, Marketing & Communications Assistant


An inevitable topic to cover at this time of year is of course, Christmas & New Year’s celebrations. Whilst a joyous occasion for many, this year many more will be feeling the pinch of the Cost of Living Crisis and may therefore be having second thoughts about what they may or may not do over the course of December. In this column, I will share just a bit of what’s on during December, in the way of free or cheap events, as well as who you can connect with if you’re struggling.

Torbay Together, the local website sharing website, dedicated to sharing volunteering and social opportunities, is hosting the latest in its series of Big Exchange events – trade any items you’d like to give a new home (be they unwanted or pre-loved) from the goods that’ll be available, all without having to worry about pesky cash. Items you can trade include plants, toys, books, clothes, and home produce (sorry, electronics are not allowed)

There will be not one, not two, but THREE Big Exchanges taking place across Torquay and Paignton, with the first being on Tuesday 6th December, 11am-4pm at the Hyperspace Bubble-tea & soft-play are Café in Paignton (near Lidl in the town centre) the second on Saturday 10th December, 11am-2pm at the Torbay Community Café & Help Hub in Torquay (behind McDonalds on Union Street) and the third on Monday 12th December, 3-5pm at All Saints Church in Torre. For more about Torbay Together, visit www.devonconnect.org/torbay, or get in touch by emailing [email protected] / phone 01803 212638.

Our team of Community Builders (some of who you can meet at the Big Exchanges listed above) aim to connect up as much of the community as possible – particularly those who feel left out, lonely, isolated, who wish to meet old or new friends, and Christmas is naturally a great time to do just that, so your local Community Builder(s) will be involved in a lot of the festivities in your neck of the woods.

For instance, at the Acorn Centre in Torquay, the Chelston Action Group are organising a free, three-course meal with entertainment, bingo, karaoke and a goodie bag on Christmas Day for any who’d usually be spending the big day alone. Midday-4pm, call Hannah if interested – 07747 304159. They are also looking for volunteers on Christmas Eve (2-5pm) and on the day itself, so call Hannah or Amanda on 07790 771528 if you can lend a hand.

Over in Brixham, YES Brixham at The Edge will be opening a free Christmas Grotto, for all little-‘uns to meet Father Christmas Saturday 17th-22nd December, 11am-4pm. Booking essential, please email [email protected] or call YES Brixham on 01803 851414.

Down in Cockington this Saturday, the Christmas Cabin at Cockington Court will be open to all ages, with an explosion of all-things Lego & Disney thrown in for good measure – meet your favourite characters, have fun with Lego, enjoy chocolate treats courtesy of The Grinch, and buy handmade festive crafts. 11am-4pm, tickets are available online or pay at the door – for more details, contact Joey Damiral by phoning 07754 609494 or emailing [email protected]

To contact your local Community Builder for more festive details, find their contact details on the TCDT website, under the “About Us” section at www.torbaycommunities.com, phone us on 01803 212638, or email [email protected]

Aside from that sample of what’s happening locally, please do reach out if things are getting tough, regardless of if it’s caused by finances, mental health, physical health or anything else you’d appreciate support with. The Torbay Community Helpline can be called on 01803 446022 (or there is an online form at bit.ly/torbayhelpline) for an array of support, including the Torbay Food Alliance (our local network of foodbanks) financial advice, mental health support, and then some.

The Helpline is typically open 10am-1pm & 3-6pm on weekdays, as well as 11:30am-12:30pm on Saturdays, but will be closing 12:30pm on Christmas Eve, reopening 10am-1pm on 28th-30th December, 11:30am-12:30pm New Year’s Eve, closed 1st & 2nd January, with normal hours resuming Tuesday 3rd January in the New Year.

Please do not forget the Warm Spaces scheme around Torbay as well, if you need somewhere warm to relax with a warm drink and company – details can be found either on the Torbay Council website or on our homepage – www.torbaycommunities.com, or contact us/ask your local Community Builder.