As part of our guest blog series we have asked local charities and support networks to write their own personal experience of lockdown. We are also interested in what they do for their clients, members and supporters. The ‘we are all in this together mentality’ is so important right now. Meet Jayne who works for MHA Lichfield Live at Home, here is her story:
News came down from Head Office one morning in the middle of March. All our regular community groups and activities were to be put on hold with immediate effect! All lunch clubs, exercise and dance groups, pub lunch trips and more. Lichfield Live at Home has a member base of nearly 300 older folks, many of whom regularly come along to one or more of our groups.
Our reason for being was to create opportunities for people to come out in to the community, meet others and socialise – something many of our members valued. Especially those living at home alone. How would we be able to support people now they had to stay at home?!
Our first plan was to contact all our members to let them know we were there for them, find out who had family or other support and then to establish how we could help those that were struggling. In the first few weeks people were mainly worried about food and access to pharmacies.
We found out about other organisations and groups that could help like the Lions who were offering to pick up prescriptions. With donations from Tesco and Waitrose we delivered emergency food boxes to people struggling to get a supermarket delivery slot and then as Lichfield District Council launched the shopping service with Coop we shared details of this service to as many people as we could.
As things started to settle down we started to think of other ways to help and began to see people were enjoying having someone to chat to over the phone. Many volunteers offered their services so we linked people up with a volunteer who would call them once a week. Others felt they would like a daily phone call so staff at Live at Home took this on. It may seem a small thing, a phone call, but it has made a huge difference to many people who feel like they can cope, knowing they are not alone and that there is someone out there who cares!!
We created an activity pack with quizzes, puzzles and crosswords and also a V.E. Day commemoration newsletter. We signed up new members who found they would like some support. We have started a delivery of books, jigsaws and DVD’s from supplies previously donated which people can swap once they are done. Birthday cards have been sent, simple exercise sheets have been posted out, needles and wool have been dropped off for people to knit squares for a memory blanket that we will sew together once this is all over.
We are now polishing up our media skills so we can create some online videos including craft activities, an exercise class, Zoom befriending, quizzes and bingo. We don’t know how many people can access the internet but we are finding out and hope to get this off the ground soon.
Lichfield & District Live at Home is a locally based charity that in normal circumstances offers a range of social activities and services to enable people to meet socially and stay healthy and well in older age. For more information please contact Jayne on: 07568612113 or Caroline on 01543 415020