Christine at WiSE makes regular calls to isolated older people

Isolated Wetherby older person hails impact of charity’s weekly telephone chats

An older person from Wetherby says weekly phone calls have given her the strength to keep going during the pandemic despite being isolated and housebound.

The lady, who wishes to remain anonymous, began speaking to telephone befriender Christine Hardman from Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) when lockdown first hit last spring.

She says the charity’s support has given her a vital lifeline during a time of incredible isolation, anxiety and stress.

She said: “I started speaking to Christine soon after the first lockdown in March last year. I now speak to her every week and it’s something I’ve come to rely upon. It’s doing me a lot of good simply to talk to someone. It’s keeping me strong and keeping me going.

“I know the pandemic hasn’t been easy for lots of people, but it’s affected me very deeply. I really worry about the virus and avoid the news wherever possible.

“Loneliness isn’t new to me- I live alone and am housebound by various ailments. I’m lucky to have animals for company and have also recently started taking an interest in the television.

“I’ve always considered myself a friendly a sociable person though, so the phone calls have become something of a necessity for me.”

Christine manages the Wise Owl Cafe a community cafe for WiSE, but became a telephone befriender when the café had to close as part of national Covid-19 restrictions. She now chats to isolated older people once a week.

Christine said: “Everyone at the charity would love to be able to offer face-to-face support and we hope to be in a position to restore some of our key services later this year. But I’ve found it a real privilege speaking to all of my callers and always look forward to the chat. It’s quite bizarre that after all these months I haven’t met any of them yet, but hope most of them will manage a trip to the café when circumstances allow us to open it again.”

Wetherby in Support of the Elderly (WiSE) is a registered charity organisation part funded by Leeds City Council (LCC).  Its aim is to improve quality of life for the over 60s by providing community based activities, information, help and support.

Since the pandemic began, staff and volunteers at WiSE have made more than 4,000 wellbeing to keep older people safe and interacted with.

It was recently presented with a special award by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Cllr Eileen Taylor in recognition of its efforts during the pandemic so far.

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