Supporting residents, tackling loneliness…
Our dedicated Community Activities Officer, Debbie Kerr, provides regular support to a number of residents across Blackpool. Here she recounts her story working with two men who have now established a firm friendship…
In my role as Community Activities Officer I have been lucky enough to meet two wonderful gentlemen in their late 90’s…
Jack. I first met Jack before the pandemic hit, having been referred to me by Adult Social Services, due to his feeling isolated and lonely. Jack lives alone having lost his wife some time ago.
I met Jack in his home with his Social Worker, and quickly discovered his passion for Ballroom Dancing. Soon after our meeting, Jack began to attend our new One Pot Club at Lowmoor Community Centre and I’m pleased to say that with the help from his son Steve, Jack came for a few weeks … but then suddenly, he stopped coming.
We were to find out that Jack had sadly been taken into hospital. He became too frail to attend any of the groups and became very much house bound. Then Covid hit us!
I kept in touch with Jack by phone calls and we chatted again about the old days, dancing, his time spent in the Marines etc… During Lockdown I introduced Jack to the ‘Tackling Loneliness’ project and the Red Cross service and both organisations have ensured that Jack gets the support he needs.
Ron. I was first introduced to Ron via a colleague who was concerned that Ron was on his own, age 95 and like Jack, was also house bound.
I made an initial call to Ron and realised that it was his birthday soon. I contacted Blackpool FC Wellbeing team and the Red Cross and we all went round to his house in the garden (social distancing ruling applied at this time) and surprised Ron for his birthday.
It was lovely to put the face to the voice!
One day I asked Ron if he could have one wish what would it be? He said he would have loved to go on the promenade and see the beach. At the time this was not an option for Ron, so I brought the beach to him! I took several photographs of the sea, beach and prom and emailed them to him.
Remarkably we also discovered that Ron was a lover of ballroom dancing in his heyday and a veteran too, (although he doesn’t like to talk about the war).
So it made perfect sense to try and get Ron and Jack together and talk about ‘the good old days.’
I realised that Ron was quite savvy with the computer as he uses Skype to contact his relatives every Saturday who live abroad! I also found out that Jack had an iPad. After several chats between myself and Nathan from Blackpool FC, we thought it would be a great idea to get Jack and Ron together via Skype.
With the help of Steve, Jack’s son and after a few attempts we were able to set Jack up on Skype.
Nathan and I set up our first Skype group call with Ron and Jack and what fun that was, when eventually we saw 4 heads on the screen at the same time, we were ecstatic!!
We continue to support Jack and Ron with helping them to Skype and of course look forward to our weekly chats with them. What an amazing outcome for these 2 chaps and a new friendship forming on the horizon. Anything is possible!
Debbie can provide regular phone contact and refer you to support agencies where appropriate. If you think you would benefit from this free service, please contact Debbie today…
T: 07483 172448 OR 01253 477900 (option 4 then 2)