The following is a conversation overheard in a Manchester department store. In the interests of national security, the names and location have not been changed.

“HO HO HO! Come and sit on my knee, young man, and tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas.”

“Well, first of all, that will not be happening. I mean, for God’s sake man, we are roughly the same age. So the knee sitting thing is a no-no, but thanks anyway. I hate to put a downer on you, brother cringle, but for some this is not the most wonderful time of the year.”

“HEE HEE HEE! Yes, I know. It can be very stressful for me and my helpers, you know.”

“Some people need helpers, and I don’t mean mommy’s little helpers, just to get through this time of year without breaking down under the pressure to join in the festivities.”

“HAW HAW HAW! Yes, I have to make sure my breakdown cover is up to date with the sleigh. You know it gets more expensive every year.”

“Not that kind of breakdown, you idiot. I mean people who may find themselves coping with their first Christmas in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse. Or they may have been in recovery for years, but still find this a time of great stress.”

“HI HI HI! What can my elves and I do to help these poor people?”

“They are not poor people! They might just need someone to talk to or some support. You know, like whatever is holding up those ridiculous red trousers you’re wearing. If you want to help I know just the thing. ADS (Addiction Dependency Solutions) have a JustGiving Xmas Appeal running to subsidise three people to provide support services every evening and at weekends during the festive period.”

“HHH HHH HHH! I feel kind of silly now in this getup.”

“No problem, you’re just earning a quid and fair play to you. Although, with your ridiculous clothes, big red face and unkempt hair, maybe you could access some recovery help yourself?”

If you’re able to support the appeal, please visit justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/addiction-dependency-solutions/christmasfamilysupport

Brian Rooney