Age UK scheme takes winter worries away in Norwich
- Credit: PA
With volunteers and elderly people now signing up for a pioneering winter safety scheme, supported by the Norwich Evening News, a woman in her 60s today tells us why she was one of the first to register.
Age UK Norwich and Voluntary Norfolk have joined forces with this newspaper and other local employers to launch Cold Weather Friends, a first-time project to ensure that if our streets become icy or snowy, older folk won't be left trapped.
And a woman who we'll call Jane – to protect her anonymity – explains why it can be so important.
One day when it was icy, Jane tried to go out to the shops. It wasn't far, but she knew it was risky.
'Suddenly my legs went from under me,' she says. 'And… well, you put your arm out to protect your face, don't you? The result is... my arm still isn't right. I can't carry a bag. I have to use a trolley.'
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That fall was in 2010.
'What you have to think about,' Jane said, 'Is that as you get older, you don't heal so quickly. Your bones are more brittle… particularly in the case of women.
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'That's why older people can be particularly nervous of going out when it's slippery, and why this service is so good. I don't have any family. And there isn't the same community spirit, these days. I have neighbours, but they're out at work all day. I don't see them.'
Jane said: 'I think this idea is great. I suffer badly from arthritis so, even in better weather, I have good days and bad days.
'I know quite a few people who could benefit from this scheme, and I will be encouraging them. I'll be taking the Evening News article up to my luncheon club.'
The plan is that if the weather reaches 'Met Office Level Three' – prolonged icy or snowy conditions – a volunteer will phone those who have registered, to check if they have all they need… food, medicine and heating etc. If necessary, someone will pop round with supplies. It's a simple scheme – and this is the first year it has been tried in Norwich – but already it is proving popular.
Older people are starting to sign up. And employees of local companies including Gasway, plsu NatWest, and this newspaper are offering to help. We only ask that new volunteers, not known to the organising charities, supply two references for the protection of our clients.
If you want the service, or if you want to help, call Age UK Norwich on 01603 496333. Please do it today… before you need it.