Not just for ChristmasPosted on 19th December 2016 by Sean de Podesta
Last year I was able to go on my Christmas break with a very positive story to tell for Christmas (see www.bh-impetus.org/2015/12/23/week-before-christmas/). I had been on my own in the office when I received a phone call from a woman who was very concerned about her friend Gerry. His wife had died just over a year previously and he was living on his own in the top flat of a Hove terrace. He was very isolated. As Gerry was 94 and not very steady on his feet, she was worried that he might fall on the stairs (as his wife had done). Also, she was a shopkeeper and was very busy over the Christmas period so she couldn’t get to see Gerry as often as she liked.
She had heard about us from one of her customers who happened to be a Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) volunteer. She wondered whether we could find a visitor for Gerry. Sharon, our Volunteer Coordinator for Gerry’s area, was able to visit him in the afternoon. Before she left work that evening she had found a volunteer, Maria, who would be happy to visit him. Maria was able to visit Gerry the weekend before Christmas. They both agreed that the visit had gone well and had already arranged to meet again. It was a good start.
Eleven months on, at the end of November, we received an email from Maria letting us know that Gerry had had to move to supported accommodation after being in his flat for forty-seven years – a big change. Because she was not working, she was able to see him three times a week. She was “helping with GP, hospital, Social Services, Fall Prevention Teams, and so on [and] getting to know what is available (in theory and practice) for older people.”
Jo Ivens, Impetus CEO, spoke about this story and more on BBC Radio Sussex earlier this month. Click here to listen (move the slider to 1:10, 1 hour 10 minutes in).
So Gerry and Maria have given me another good news story to post before going on Christmas leave. It is one that chimes with the Impetus Christmas campaign, “No one should be lonely in Brighton & Hove”.
The bright lights and celebration of Christmas may highlight loneliness and isolation and move us to good fellowship and concern. But these are not just for Christmas, but for every day of the year. This is a good point to express my thanks and appreciation to the nearly three hundred Neighbourhood Care Scheme volunteers like Maria who have been visiting isolated older people on average every hour of every day this year, making a real difference to hundreds of people’s lives.