Bassetlaw: Good to know you’ve got a rural friend

Bassetlaw Befriending Scheme which helps people like Elsie Marrison from Blyth by visiting them in their home and having a social gathering once a month G130712-5a
Bassetlaw Befriending Scheme which helps people like Elsie Marrison from Blyth by visiting them in their home and having a social gathering once a month G130712-5a

In these days of scattered families, isolation can be a real problem for older people living alone.

It’s something which Jane Jackman has seen at first hand.

She is in charge of Rural Bassetlaw Befriending Scheme, which aims to promote health and well-being for the over 50s.

Development and delivery officer Jane said: “We took a group out for a walk round King’s Park in Retford and one of the ladies got hold of my arm and said she felt like she’d been on a mini holiday.”

“I nearly had a tear in my eye, to think we are making such an impact doing such a basic thing.”

“It makesus realise how worthwhile it is.”

Elsie Marrison, 80, of Blyth, is very grateful for the help she has received from the RBBS.

She lost her husband Ken in March, just a few days short of their 60th wedding anniversary.

The two of them got in touch with the RBBS three years ago.

Elsie said: “Ken lost his sight about 15 years ago and had a touch of dementia and we weren’t getting out much.”

“Someone came once a week to sit with Ken for three hours so I could go out.”

“Then we used to go to the get-togethers once a month at Goodwin Hall at Retford.”

Elsie has continued her monthly outings and has someone calling in for a chat.

She is fortunate that her son Kevin and his wife Mandy live in Worksop and can visit and help her with her shopping. She also has four grandsons.

“There are people worse off than me. It’s good to know someone will be calling in, especially because I don’t drive and the buses aren’t very frequent.”

Elsie was born in Worksop but has lived in Blyth for more than 50 years.

She worked at Blyth school for 29 years as a cook supervisor.

“I know a lot of people in the village, and my neighbours are very good,” she said.

Jane, of Mansfield, said the befriending scheme is funded by Notts County Council.

They are hoping to expand it and are looking for more volunteers.

“We have 15 volunteers at the moment and 16 beneficiaries, and 25 on the waiting list.”

“Anyone is welcome to come along to our meetings at Goodwin Hall though.”

Activities there have included making Christmas decorations and belly dancing.

“We also had a university graduate in showing us how to make bird feeders. She had her hair different colours and our oldest lady who is 102 was asking her about it. “

“It was great to see the two of them chatting away, despite the big age difference.”

Lunch is provided for the token charge of £2 and transport to and from the hall is available through Bassetlaw Car Scheme.

Volunteers also take people out to appointments or the shops.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Jane on 01623 727600.