Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Newspaper column 5 December 2018 - Help for the vulnerable

I was struck this week by a phone call we had into the office.

“I have befriended this elderly lady who was recently rushed into hospital, she needed a few things from her home, so we went in to collect what she had requested. I had never been into her home but what met us was tragic and heart-breaking. Needless to say it took us many, many hours to clean and tidy up. In our conversations she just says – I am so lonely…”

There are many people living on their own, on the outside we may think they have it altogether and are coping well. But behind closed doors is a different matter. They can be isolated, vulnerable and alone. They think they are coping but they are really not.

In today's world where people are more mobile and communities fragmented more people than ever, particularly the elderly, live alone.

As we enter the Christmas festive season, it often provides the opportunity for all of us to think about those who are on their own. Christmas is a time when families come together, which is a joy for many, but can also be a time when those who no longer have families around them feel loneliness even more acutely.  

Cornwall is rightly proud of our voluntary organisations and that proportionately more people provide their time and money to support charities than other parts of the country.

There are many groups that provide help and support for those who are alone.

Age UK – Support in Cornwall 01872 279279 (St Austell Day Care) and 01637 876150 (Newquay Day Care)

St Austell Kitchen are providing meals again this Christmas.

Volunteer Cornwall are also a great organisation that can point anyone wishing to give their time in the right direction.

These are just a few groups but there of course many others who provide support all year round.

It was my privilege to attend an event in Parliament this week run by St Mungo’s – who have Hostels for the homeless all over the UK and to see the excellent work they are doing to help those who need shelter during this time. It is a timely reminder that whilst the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall continues to fall, there are still those who do not have a place to live.

In Cornwall we have the wonderful St Petroc’s Society who continue to provide accommodation, support, advice, training and resettlement services to single homeless people in Cornwall. Having visited some of their homes I know the amazing work they do. 

You can find out more about St Petroc’s Society by visiting their website

So, as we head into Christmas, let’s make sure we take the opportunity to think of those who will be on their own and if we can all do something, no matter how small, if will make a huge difference to those around us.