Building resilience to loneliness and isolation in Droitwich
published on 20 Oct 2020
Carolyn Gomersall, Community support worker at Droitwich corps works with people of all ages, from the ‘cradle to the grave’ as she calls it. However, it was clear to her, that many older people felt lonely and often, isolated.
Carolyn knew she had to keep in touch with the older people that use to attend the Salvation Army, (since activities were suspended in March due to lockdown measures) and decided to call, or visit each of them – 70 per week, understanding the risks of isolation and loneliness on mental health.
She said: “I don’t go into people’s houses, I speak to them at a safe distance from their home entranceway or on the phone. We take hot meals and food donated by local supermarkets. I also take them a copy of War Cry, puzzle books and Christian reading material, for those who need that.
“Being stuck inside with nowhere to meet others is a really challenging mental health issue for older people right now. Coping with darker nights through the winter, will feel very different from the summer lockdown period.
“Our older people are thinking; will we ever meet again? Others are wondering if they will see their family over Christmas. Some simply don’t know if they will be able to have Christmas together with loved ones this year.”
The church had been running a lunch club, before coronavirus lockdown measures, for local older people to meet and enjoy a hot meal together. Due to demand, the lunch club grew from one day a week to two days. Carolyn worked with the corps to develop a friendship group that met before the lunch club on Wednesdays to extend the time spent together.
David, 80, had been attending the Wednesday friendship group and lunch club and said: “I love it when [Carolyn] comes around with hot dinners and food – as it gives me a break from cooking. I’ve been touched by their kindness and politeness to me.”
Jean, 85, was going to the lunch club at The Salvation Army for several years before coronavirus, and she started attending the friendship group too. Jean said, “I lost my husband 11 years ago and The Salvation Army has become a lifeline to me.”
The friendship group at the hall have enabled Jean to re-establish local relationships with people she knew years before, when her children were small. As a result, her friendship circle has grown.
Doreen, 71, said: “The Salvation Army has helped us with shopping and collecting prescriptions. Carolyn has helped us through this, she has been fantastic and a great help to us. I’ll always remember the help we’ve had from The Salvation Army.”
The work of the corps has been acknowledged by local councillor Richard Morris, Droitwich, Worcestershire High Sheriff (Mark Jackson OBE) and Droitwich Town Mayor (Cllr Bill Moy), particularly through the current pandemic period.