A friend in need is one indeed
HUNDREDS of people across North East Lincolnshire were caught out by the heavy snowfall during winter 2010-11. Local organisations were inundated with calls from people needing help in various ways – from clearing snow to replenishing their food cupboards. Health reporter KATIE BLACKBURN meets those involved in a befriending scheme and the Winter Planning Team and other services making a difference to people's lives...
THEY get by with a little help from their friends! The Friendship At Home charity, based at the Old Vicarage, in Hart Street, Cleethorpes, has set up a scheme to help combat isolation and loneliness.
A befriending service for over 60s or those with dementia is now available and is seeking volunteers to step forward and donate some time, particularly now as the nights are long.
That's just what Stewart Coley, of Stallingborough, did when he befriended widow Lizzie Milner, of Immingham.
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Stewart, 62, had separated from his wife and wanted to focus his mind towards helping others. Little did he know befriending Lizzie, 88, would also help himself.
"The team at Friendship At Home try their best to match you with the right person," he said.
"The first time I met with Lizzie we were both sceptical about how it would go, but now I would not have it any differently. I visit her about three times a week for a cup of tea and a chat.
"She has told me so many stories about her past that I almost feel part of the family.
"The time I spend with her allows me to also talk about things and we just listen to each other.
"This has helped me through hard times – which I never though would happen when I signed up to this scheme."
Lizzie's husband of 62 years, Gordon, died in 2007 after battling cancer and strokes. She had become his full-time carer and they were hardly apart throughout their lives.
After his death, Lizzie found it hard to motivate herself and became confined to her home – until Stewart donated time with her.
She said: "If I am honest, at the beginning I was hoping for a female to befriend me so I could have my nails painted, but now I would not change a thing."
Lizzie's son lives away, so after her husband died she had no one nearby to spend time with.
"It was like losing a part of myself and at times I felt lonely," she continued. "Stewart now takes me out for walks, even if it is just to the end of the road.
"It is such a nice feeling after being inside the house for so many years.
"The befriending service has given me a lifeline and an adopted son, I look forward to Stewart popping round each week."
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should call Friendship At Home on 01472 602500.