A lonely 82-year-old says a weekly phone call from one of Sheffield’s leading older persons’ charities has helped to transform her pandemic experience.
Jean Flockton, from Hillsborough, has used the services of Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) since 2019 – but says the support the charity offers came into its own when lockdown first hit.
The weekly telephone calls from an SCCCC volunteer are the highlight of the week for Jean, who lives alone, has no close family and is visually impaired.
“I have been a service user of SCCCC for two years after a friend of mine highly recommended them.
“I live alone and have no family, apart from my niece, who is very good to me. I also don’t have any carers, even though my eyesight is deteriorating. Living alone is hard at the best of times, but then COVID-19 happened. Everything was closed down, and so was I.
“To help with my loneliness, I have a weekly telephone call from Alice, one of SCCCC’s telephone volunteers. We get on so well – she’s a very nice person. I was having trouble with eye operations, and I was struggling reading when baking, so she bought me a little scale that was easier to read. That was brilliant.
“One day, she brought me a flower from her garden. She looks like a nice young woman, and you can tell she’s nice by her voice on the phone.
“She asks what I’ve managed to do and if I need any help with anything. We talk about baking. I have a brilliant Bakewell tart recipe – it was my mother-in-law’s and her mother’s before that. The only problem with baking is that I have it eat it all myself!
“The calls break up my day. Alice is lovely to talk to, especially when you’re isolated like this. I used to talk to my neighbours when it was warm, but it’s much harder in the colder weather.
“Being isolated can get you down, there are bad days. But when Alice rings, she cheers me up. She tells me about her little girl and all the things they get up to. Talking to her helps.
“Being a part of SCCCC is brilliant. I often receive children’s pictures and cards, and letters through their Pen pal scheme. I can’t reply because of my eye problems, but it’s lovely to get them. Talking on the phone is a lifeline when you can’t read.
“It’s a great thing that SCCCC does, I appreciate it very much. If anyone is thinking about volunteering for them, I would say do it, it makes such a difference to me and others.”
SCCCC is currently recruiting new volunteers to be paired up with older people for telephone support, with anyone in South Yorkshire eligible to help out.
The charity hopes that telephone calls may become friendly visits in the future once the current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. A full induction and DBS checks will be carried out to ensure all volunteers are suitable to support our older service users.
To find out more or to volunteer, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0114 2505292.