West Worcester Living at Home Scheme
As we get older, there are many reasons why we might feel lonely. Family and friends move away, perhaps a husband, wife or partner is lost, or illness makes it harder to get out and about.
In St John’s, there’s a well-established charity that tackles loneliness in older people. The West Worcester Live at Home Scheme organises a big range of activities, events and get togethers, which it has been doing for the past 25 years.
Elaine Harper manages the scheme and runs through their busy schedule. ‘On Monday and Thursday we run a lunch club. We also have a seated exercise class on a Thursday, we organise escorted shopping trips and there’s even a singing group. We also hold Afternoon Teas with entertainers and there’s an outing or a trip once a month. We visit all kinds of places and spend an enjoyable day out in friendly company.’
Every August, a Vintage Tea Party is organised, where the best vintage china is brought out and a grand afternoon tea is laid on, together with music from the Worcester Ukulele Group. ‘It’s a lovely day’ says Elaine, ‘people bring their families along and some even have a dance!’
As if that wasn’t enough, they’re about to launch ‘Deli and Dance’, a ballroom dance class followed by a tea, generously supported by The Bake House in Lowesmoor. There’s also a new ballroom and light dance class beginning in Ombersley every other Tuesday.
Alongside the social activities is a befriending scheme for people less able to get out and about. ‘It’s quite straightforward’ says Elaine. ‘After a referral, we visit you at home and see what would work for you. We match you with a volunteer who might have a similar background or interests to you and then you can decide when you’d like them to visit.’
Like many organisations, its success is thanks not only to the staff but also the many volunteers who keep things running. ‘Some of our volunteers are retired, others are much younger, and we even have one 16 year old who looks after some of our marketing activities’ says Elaine. ‘We rely on fundraising to run our services. There is help from The MHA, of whom we are a part, and money from various trusts including the Eveson Charitable Trust who have supported us for many years.’
For some of the people who come along, it is truly a lifeline. Joan is 83 years old, is St John’s born and bred, and has been coming for 9 years. She lost her husband Albert after 52 years of marriage and suddenly, living on her own, had very little contact with anybody. ‘I didn’t like being on my own’ says Joan, ‘so I joined Live at Home and it really did save my life.’