Students at Jesus College have been getting into the Oxmas spirit by holding a Christmas lunch last Friday for elderly people in Oxfordshire.

A team led by Cyrus Nayeri, a third-year Geographer at Jesus, hosted a gathering for around fifty senior citizens including Christmas dinner, a raffle featuring prizes donated by Marks and Spencer and a selection of musical performances by the students involved. The guests were also given a tour of the college and chatted to the students involved in running the event.

The students were aiming to strengthen their ties with local people outside of the University. In a statement to the Oxford University Press Office, Nayeri said, “We are very keen to give back to the community by inviting people who may not have a chance to get out as much as they would like to meet students and have a tour of an Oxford college.”

Nayeri was able to fund the event thanks to Jesus’ Anthony Fletcher Innovation Award and an additional grant from the college.

Andrew Rogers, Jesus College’s JCR President for 2013, stated, ‘I was delighted when I heard that Jesubites were reaching out into the community in this way, proving what I already knew – that Jesus College is a friendly and welcoming place where caring extends past our own quads.’

The guests were chosen by Laura Freeth from Age UK Oxfordshire, who selected a wide range of elderly participants, many of whom are involved in caring for a spouse or dependant.

Freeth said, “Loneliness is an issue for many elderly people and the guests particularly enjoyed socialising with the students as equals. The chance to have a chat, a mince pie and maybe a glass of wine was invaluable to people who often feel isolated in their everyday lives.”

She added, “I was very impressed with the event; the food and the music were especially popular and the hard work of all those involved was much appreciated by all who participated. It showed a different side to the younger generation compared to the raucous image of students that is often portrayed in the media.”

 “I hope that similar events will be organised in the future as the lunch was of real benefit to the participants and there are plenty of others who could not be invited due to insufficient space,” Freeth continued.

The event attracted similar praise from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, who commented, “Many students and staff are very involved in the local community and it is a major aim of the University of Oxford to live and work in harmony with our neighbours. This Christmas party is a great idea and I am sure that both the students and their guests will benefit from the day.”