Though they have different histories and cultures, Mexico and the UK are facing a surprising number of similar problems when it comes to social isolation and older people. Dionisio Garcia lays out the case for a Circle Movement in Mexico.
Thank you, since Mum joined she has enjoyed a couple of coffee catch up’s, Mark came round to do a bit of DIY, she has made a friend who is going to Mum’s tomorrow, she is looking forward to her computer class on Friday, and then the canal trip end of the month.
Thank you all, you are doing a brilliant job, long do you reign.
On Friday I took a call from a lady called Joan**. 17 years ago Joan’s son Steve was attacked by a group of lads who left him with severe head injuries. The injuries lead to some “mental problems” and Joan cared for him for several years until her own ill health meant she could no longer cope. Steve went to live in a local home. The problems of her son affected her husband, who turned to drink. Her husband became violent and abusive and Joan was visited by the Domestic Abuse Unit on 21 separate occasions. Her husband finally left, taking Joan’s last £30 from her purse.
Joan’s health has deteriorated even further and she had not left her house other than to go into hospital in the past 3 years.
Joan had received a letter last year that Circle was coming to the Rochdale area sometime in 2013. She had enquired at the time as she was interested in the Practical Helper Service. She struggled with mobility, her garden was becoming over run and she couldn’t do simple tasks, such as changing light bulbs. Joan saw an article that went out in The Carers News Magazine about Circle last week saying that Circle had arrived, so on the back of that she rang me to see how she went about getting her bits of jobs done.
I went to see her on Monday to see what jobs we could do once Steve our Practical Helper starts work. It was during this conversation she told me her story. When she said she hadn’t left the house in 3 years I told her I would make it my job to get her out at some point in the future.
She said that all her social workers, home helps, doctors, consultants even her son have told her she needs to get out but with no success. We discussed what Circle does and what Circle is about and Joan really was taken by it.
So at 11.50am Tuesday morning Joan is being picked up by Taxi and she is coming to the Flying Horse Hotel in Rochdale to join us for our St. Georges Day Lunch event. After 3 years of being a prisoner in her own home Joan is coming out! As a postscript to this Joan, arrived at the Flying Horse in her “Sunday Best”. She said that her home help had called on her this morning and asked “Why are you all dressed up?” Joan replied “I’m dressed up because I am going out!”
–Mark Wynn is Director at Rochdale Circle CIC.
** The names have been changed out of courtesy.
Image by Let Ideas Compete, via the Flickr Creative Commons.
We were contacted this afternoon by someone from the Borough Council, with a referral for us as part of the Warm Homes, Healthy People initiative. Suffolk Circle is providing manpower to fit energy saving equipment, such as draught excluders and radiator covers. The lady we spoke to lives in a very rural part of Suffolk, is quite elderly with no family (at least no family living nearby). We were asked to go and fit draught excluders, and were also asked to replace a cracked window. On discussion with this lady, it turns out she lives in a rented property and can’t get hold of the landlord about the window. She has been given a grant to buy some heating oil, but didn’t understand how it all worked and was very concerned that she was going to be landed with a bill for £400 that she simply couldn’t afford. We could have made an appointment to go and fit the draught excluders and gone home again. But this isn’t what we do. We phoned the chap who organised the heating oil grant, found out how it was all going to work and relayed this information back to her (it turns out the Borough Council will inform the oil company, who will credit her account on her behalf). We are trying to get hold of the landlord on behalf of this lady, and will work with him to get the window replaced. And while we are on our way out to fit the equipment, we can pick up some shopping and just check that the lady has everything she needs. Local people looking out for local people, and being there when we are needed with the ability to flex and respond to peoples needs, wants and desires.
General Manager, Suffolk Circle
Behind closed doors.
Here at Suffolk Circle, we responded to the recent bad weather not by convening action groups, or panels of well-meaning individuals to discuss action but by taking that action ourselves and hitting the streets, snow shovels and rock salt in hand. We visited a few hundred people, and the results were shocking.
The first individual we saw is 93 years old, comfortably off and living in his own very tidy bungalow on a very nice residential estate in Bury St Edmunds. He answered the door in a thick coat, scarf and hat and was noticeably shivering. When questioned, he couldn’t see well enough to turn the heating up as his eyesight has deteriorated. We, of course, popped in and turned the heating up. A two second job, which made him more comfortable again and took away those long, cold miserable days and nights. We also made contact with Action for Blind People (with his permission of course) who are going to contact him shortly about his eyesight and help him as much as they can. Suffolk Circle can and will help him with transport to and from the hospital, installing any equipment he may need and keep a regular eye on him.
The second individual was a lady, who wasn’t a member of ours and looked to be in her late 60’s. I knocked on her door, spoke to her about Suffolk Circle and told her about the promotion we were running. She wasn’t interested (I was dressed in a thick body warmer and a hoodie, and although I had my ID badge still looked pretty frightening to an older lady living on her own I’m sure!). She was just about to shut the door, when I asked her if she needed her drive clearing as it was covered in snow and ice. She paused, and looked suspicious. I told her it was absolutely free, and I would be back in an hour to do it for her. I didn’t want anything from her, and was genuinely just holding out the hand (or snow shovel!) of community spirit. An hour or so later we turned up, cleared her drive and started talking. It turns out the lady hadn’t been out for 11 days as she couldn’t get the car out of the drive and daren’t walk on the driveway. Her mobility was fine, no need for sticks, frames or scooters. She lived in the middle of the same housing estate as the first man but was completely cut off behind her own front door.
These aren’t isolated cases, and Suffolk Circle isn’t by any means the only organisation doing this stuff and responding to the cold weather in this way. There are countless organisations trying to help out, and mostly doing a great job. We work with these organisations more and more, and are proud to be part of the Warm Homes Healthy People scheme in Suffolk. The point I am trying to make is that if these people were better connected; to each other, to us, to their communities this wouldn’t happen. All it takes is for someone to pop next door and just check people are ok.