As we enter a new year, and a new decade, we’re pleased to offer you all an update on our second Winter Wellbeing project, which helps older neighbours across the city of Liverpool stay warm, active and connected through the coldest months of the year. We’re about halfway through the project now, and though December is behind us we all know that the months ahead are often some of the coldest of the year these days!
During the past three months we’ve spoken to 262 older neighbours and carried out 203 interventions which has included delivering warm items including blankets hot water bottles and thermal socks to those most at need during the colder months of the year.
We’ve also been signing up older neighbours to our free monthly social clubs (including singalongs, bread making classes, creative writing, and beer tasting clubs to name a few!). And through our Love Your Neighbour programme (we’re delighted with the 5 matches we've made to date!) we’ve been busy connecting up older and younger neighbours for weekly friendly visits to spend time company and companionship.
A really important part of Winter Wellbeing is re-engaging with older neighbours that are already a part of our network. By taking the time to speak with, and sometimes revisit, older neighbours that we’ve met in the past year we can deepen those wonderful connections and better understand whether there’s anything else we might be able to help with.
Back in December I had the pleasure of re-engaging with some older neighbours who I’d met during the previous year’s Winter Wellbeing project by revisiting a sheltered housing scheme in Everton and doing some door-knocking.
It’s here where I had the chance to chat with 76-year-old Marie, who we’d first met way back in November 2018 at one of our first outreach visits! On approaching Marie’s home I was greeted with a familiar, massive smile;
‘Hello love, it’s so lovely to see you again – come in!’.
Marie told me how she’s been receiving our social club listings each month for the past year, and how she told her friends all about the free activities that we run across the city. As we continued to chat I realised that Marie was the person who introduced four of our regular older neighbours to Liverpool Cares – Lil, Ken, May and Patrick!
‘It was me that told them about you lot and what fabulous work you all do’
After nattering to Marie and her friend Robert for a good twenty-five minutes (and after being offered several cups of tea!) Marie saw me to her door, gave me a hug goodbye and waved me off;
“I’m so made up to see you again! Call in anytime you’re in the area girl! “
Reconnecting with Marie, and hearing about how she had encouraged her friends to join Liverpool Cares reminded me of what it’s all about, not to mention the power of the ‘scouse word of mouth’, and next time I’m in the area I’ll definitely be taking Marie up on her offer of a cup of tea!
A few doors down from Marie lives 93-year-old Annie, who I had also met during outreach in 2018. This year, Annie received a hot water bottle and a new warm blanket as part of our Winter Wellbeing project, and as we got chatting, she opened up and told my colleague and I some stories about growing up in the area and the changes she has seen.
‘I’ve lived around here all my life. I grew up just off SOHO Street – it used to be called ‘The Four Squares’ back then, and there was a real sense of community, you wanted for nothing…’
Annie went on to tell us both all about being evacuated to Conway as a child, and the bombing of Liverpool during the height of WW2.
‘We used to have to take our school lessons in neighbour’s larders as they were the safest place during the bombing!'
Meeting Annie again and hearing a snippet of her rich cultural and historical knowledge about our brilliant city was fascinating. Not only have we helped her stay a little cosier this winter by delivering some free warm items to her door, but Annie has also shared some beautiful stories about her life. And this what Liverpool Cares is all about – being rooted in place and able to represent the stories of our local people. Annie really is one of the wonderful hidden heroines of Liverpool.
This is just a small portion of the re-engagement work we’ve undertaken in the second year of our Winter Wellbeing project, and it’s been so beneficial – it’s allowed us to check in with older neighbours we met a year ago, given us further opportunities to provide help when needed and also say a very big hello to some old friends!
Amongst all of this fantastic re-engagement I have also met some older neighbours for the first time this year, like 81-year-old James (better known as ‘Jimmy’) in Wavertree who received a hot water bottle from us.
“I’ve never had a hot water bottle before’ he told me, laughing, ‘what do I do with it?’
After carefully showing Jimmy how to fill up his new hot water bottle, we sat down for a cuppa and a chat. Jimmy was a brilliant conversationalist, and gladly told me about his long 50 year working history as a Bookmaker.
‘I was often taken to race meetings as a young apprentice at Chester, Haydock and in Manchester. I’ve worked in the first betting shops when they opened in 1961, including ones in Sweeting Street, Granby Street and the one at the bottom of Mount Pleasant…’
It was an absolute pleasure to chat to Jimmy about his lifelong working relationship with numbers, how he would go to different race meetings, and the enjoyment he got from his work in the 50 years he’d been a bookie.
There is an abundance of brilliant ‘scouse stories’ hidden across our city, existing within our older neighbours, and meeting Marie, Annie and Jimmy through our Winter Wellbeing outreach engagement highlights just a few of them. These encounters and stories also highlight the value of listening to, and learning from, others. Most of all, for me, these stories highlight the power of connection and community.
I’ll be continuing our second Winter Wellbeing project until the end of March 2020, working across neighbourhoods to help those over 65 who are most in need.
If you or anyone you know could benefit from a little extra support from our Winter Wellbeing project please give us a call on 0151 659 1789 or make a referral online by going to : https://liverpoolcares.org.uk/older-neighbour-referral-form
Posted by Rachael Treacher on Monday 20th January 2020
Rachael Treacher is the Volunteer and Outreach Officer at Liverpool Cares: she manages our community network of younger and older neighbours.