Being stuck indoors and other stories (Leila, part 1)Posted on 1st May 2018 by Toni Slater
Leila has been a member of our Neighbourhood Care Scheme since 2011. Her current volunteer has been visiting her weekly since just before Christmas 2017.
In this first blog of a regular series, she shares her thoughts and experiences of the last couple of months, March and April 2018.
“March was a really bizarre month for my volunteer and I. Her daughter had Chickenpox which meant we couldn’t meet up. The snow and cold weather also kept her away. It was quite a long and lonely month, little food and few visitors. I was stuck indoors because the batteries in my power wheelchair tend to clog up in the cold and it breaks down in the rain.
One of my fears of going out is my wheelchair breaking down. It is something which makes me so isolated. I miss out on lots of events in the City because of this. I have no one to take me and Social Care can’t fund such activities. I have lost contact with many people over the years because I panic when I get stuck on kerbs and grounded by tree roots. It’s awful to be stranded and feel vulnerable, awaiting rescue.
On the days my volunteer managed to visit she was met with a case of verbal overload. I was so excited to see her! We spent time speaking about the different markets in London, where her Husband often goes to get food and clothing supplies for their family. She gave me a gift of a vial of perfumed oil with a sweet, aromatic scent.
She is full of joy, young at heart but very shy. She enjoys listening to others but her English, she feels, is not so good. I try to think of different things to do when she visits. We sometimes sit colouring with cups of tea. She also helps with tidying up which I am eternally grateful for!
The first week of April, I was invited to visit the Circus with a neighbour and was able to take my three-year-old Granddaughter. I haven’t been to the circus in a decade but thoroughly enjoyed it, noting that it’s much better now animals aren’t used. It was a lovely hot afternoon and for two hours I forgot about my problems.
The following day, a close family friend got married in Kent but I wasn’t able to attend. I was filled with bittersweet emotions. I wasn’t able to hug her, to share the precious day with everyone else. I was alone in my flat on a gloomy, cold day and I cried with happiness for them and pity for myself. My Daughter sent copious videos and photos during the day so I was able to see from afar what was happening. My Daughter totally gets me. She is my rock and understands my needs better than any other.
On Friday 13th April(!), I went on a visit of my neighbourhood with someone from the Highways Department and a local Councillor. We meet occasionally to uncover issues which may affect people with mobility problems. We discuss where to put dropped kerbs, fix broken pavements and any other obstacles like overgrown hedges which can be a hazard. I find this work truly rewarding and meeting with local officials gives them first-hand experience to, hopefully, help them make informed decisions.
My volunteer and I also went to the garden centre. We had lots of fun smelling the different herbs and trying to guess what each of them were. I decided to buy some cucumber, red pepper and carrots to plant out on my balcony. We visited the Aquatic Shop in the centre and took great pleasure watching the colourful fish swimming around in huge aquariums.
On average, April has been a good month. The sunny, hot days have helped it pass quickly, without incident. I feel happy to be alive and I cherish that feeling.”
More from Leila next month! During 2018 we are celebrating 20 years of the Neighbourhood Care Scheme. Read more in our blog, coming soon…