Sheffield charity’s telephone chats and pen pal pictures help lonely pensioner

A lonely 82-year-old says a weekly phone call from one of Sheffield’s leading older persons’ charities has helped to transform her pandemic experience.

Jean Flockton, from Hillsborough, has used the services of Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care (SCCCC) since 2019 but says the support the charity offers came into its own when lockdown first hit.

The telephone calls from an SCCCC volunteer are a highlight of the week for Jean, who lives alone, has no close family and is visually impaired.

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Jean Flockton, who says the weekly telephone calls are the highlight of her week

Jean said: “I live alone and have no family, apart from my niece who is very good to me. I also don’t have any carers, even though my eyesight is deteriorating. Living alone is hard at the best of times, but then Covid-19 happened. Everything was closed down, and so was I.

“To help with my loneliness, I have a weekly telephone call from Alice, one of SCCCC’s telephone volunteers. We get on so well - she’s a very nice person. I was having trouble with eye operations and I was struggling reading when baking, so she bought me a little scale which was easier to read.

“One day she brought me a flower from her garden. She looks a nice young woman, and you can tell she’s nice by her voice on the phone.

“She asks what I’ve managed to do and if I need any help with anything. We talk about baking. I have a brilliant Bakewell tart recipe - it was my mother-in-law’s and her mother’s

before that.

“The calls break up my day. Alice is lovely to talk to, especially when you’re isolated like this. I used to talk to my neighbours when it was warm, but it’s much harder in the colder weather.

“Being isolated can get you down, there are bad days. But when Alice rings she cheers me up. She tells me about her little girl and all the things they get up to. Talking to her helps.”

Jean, who also receives pictures, cards and letters through the SCCCC pen pal scheme, said being part of the charity is brilliant and described the phone calls as a ‘lifeline’.

She urged would-be volunteers to just “do it” and make a difference to the lives of people like her.

For more information email [email protected] or phone 0114 2505292.

The Star has launched a new Buddy Up! Campaign calling on more people to sign up as volunteers to help provide befriending services to isolated people. For more information on that, see our article here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.