Pensioner who became desperately lonely shares story to inspire support of Sid Valley befriending se

Originally Posted in the Sidmouth Herald.

A elderly man who found himself desperately lonely has spoken out about the difference a befriending service has made to his life.

The Herald previously revealed Sid Valley HELP’s plans to launch a visiting service, in partnership with Independent Age, to help combat loneliness in the valley.

But they needed the backing of the community to help fundraise and for volunteers to come forward.

Harold, who is 84-years-old, has now spoken out about his experience in hopes his tale will inspire others to throw their support behind the launch of the service.

Harold said: “I’ve never been married and my last sister died last summer so I have no family.

“My mobility isn’t good so I don’t go out, other than to do a bit of shopping. I have a couple of local friends, but most have passed away. I think I’m moving up the list all the time.

“Every day is a bonus. The weekends are the loneliest time.

“There are people to nod to as I’ve lived here a long time. Most people ask how you are but they are just asking for conversation.

“I don’t say that unkindly - everyone is tied up with their own worries and problems.

“That is life now and, when I look back, I have had my own good times, as well as an interesting job working in finance.

“I have cancer, kidney disease and a lung condition. I happened to mention that I was desperately lonely to one of my consultants at hospital and the doctor asked me if I was interested in a volunteer visitor from Independent Age.

“Ruth has made a lot of difference to my life. She told me she was nervous when she first came here last summer and I was very nervous too.

“I think we just clicked from square one. We could trust each other to talk openly as if we have known each other for years. She has an interesting occupation and we talk about that but we talk about all and sundry too. We share a great sense of humour.

“Having Ruth visit has transformed my weekends. A lot of people on their own seem to think that Sunday is the loneliest day. I look at the clock and wait for 2.30pm when she comes to visit - something lovely to look forward to. She looks forward to seeing me and I certainly look forward to seeing her.”

Amanda Whitlock, Independent Age’s national wellbeing manager, said: “I am delighted that Independent Age and Sid Valley Help are working together to tackle loneliness in the valley and make a positive difference to those that live here. We need volunteers though.”

A drop-in session will be held on October 23, from 10am until noon at the Unitarian Church Hall for people to find out more about what is involved.

Call the Independent Age Helpline on 0800 319 6789, email or visit our website for more information.