No Human Contact for 8 Months: Lonely reality of shielding from Covid-19

This is a post shared by Camille Meehan from the charity, written after interviewing a person looked after by them, on how they survived the lockdown in isolation: 

Loneliness during the Covid-19 pandemic is rife. It is unfortunately reaching all corners of our society, and is particularly affecting the elderly and vulnerable people who are shielding. Can you imagine living alone with no human contact? This is what hundreds of thousands of elderly people experience every day in UK, even before COVID-19 threatened us to stay at home. Now that Lockdown 2 has launched into full effect, many will experience these feelings of isolation resurfacing and intensifying. 

In a time when families and friends are separated once again by a national lockdown, the nation finds ways of coming together to support those in our communities who are seriously affected by the pandemic. Based in Peterborough, the charity Ness M Care Foundation provides care services and has adapted (like many of us) during the pandemic to offer help to isolated people. They have launched the Buddy-Up project, building clients’ social contact through activities, and the Covid-19 Community Support, helping high-risk people in isolation receive their food shops. The charity relies on volunteers to support these projects. 

I reached out to Mrs. B, an 83-year-old woman who lives alone in Peterborough with only her seven-year-old cat, Katie, to keep her company. She has been supported by Ness M Foundation’s Covid-19 Community Support for 8 months during her shielding, and was kind enough to tell me how the charity has improved her quality of life. 

Mrs. B struggles with a range of psychical health issues, having had multiple operations when she was younger, and currently suffers from spinal issues causing extreme pain all over her body. What Mrs. B seemed most worried about, and understandably, was mixing with people in shops. Due to her health problems, she would be concerned if exposed to so many people at once. Mrs. B accepts that she needs to isolate, and she knows it is necessary for the elderly to stay inside when their immune systems are impaired. She did, however, admit that at times it gets her down, and she does experience loneliness. 

To Mrs. B, TV and radio are extremely valuable to her. Hearing human voices through the TV is a way for her to feel like she is experiencing human contact. Watching debates and documentaries keeps her mind occupied, providing her with new thoughts and perspectives to consider, as well as reading Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters. 

“I don’t know what I’d do without my television, I don’t think I would cope. It’s the only human contact I have, I don’t hear any other voices.” 

Ness M Foundation offers Mrs. B a Covid-19 shopper, who helps with her weekly food shop and drops it at her home. When I asked Mrs. B how she feels about this, she explained: “She’s more than a shopper, she’s a friend to me.” It gives her something to look forward to every week, knowing they can have cheerful conversations. 

Despite everything she has been through, Mrs. B kept her spirits high on our phone call. Commenting on lockdown, she told me: “If I were young, I think I would feel it more. But I’m 83 and I’d be at home anyway! I can’t get around much anymore.” 

When I asked her what advice she would give other people in her situation, she told me that having someone to talk to who ideally shares the same interests, is vital to her wellbeing. She has so much to talk about and so many stories to tell, but she feels that no one ever wants to listen to elderly people. Ness M Foundation provides people like Mrs. B with Wellbeing Volunteer Callers to tackle their loneliness. 

“When you’re old who wants to know you anyway.” 

Ness M Foundation helps people like Mrs. B every day to tackle issues caused by Covid-19 isolation and general loneliness, and they are always on the lookout for new volunteers. Whether you want to get involved in the Buddy-Up project, become a Covid-19 shopper, or simply conduct weekly wellbeing calls to a lonely person, you only need to spare a few hours a week to give back to your community.

Please call Ness M Foundation on 01733570999 if you would like to get involved. 

 

Peterborough Matters