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Live at Home Northampton welcomes 500th member Len Malpas

Friday 28 August 2015

Another week, another cause for celebration at Northampton Live at Home. We were recently on BBC Radio Northampton as part of Feelgood Fortnight (two weeks of programmes about happiness and mental wellbeing – you can listen to it here, skip to 2.08.30), and now we’ve just had a party to welcome our 500th member, Len Malpas. Obviously I’m thrilled about it all, but it’s also got me thinking. If at least 500 people in Northampton need us (we’re still doing outreach – I’m sure there are plenty more people we could help too) and BBC Radio is inviting us to discuss wellbeing, that really says something about how much people need Live at Home, and how much good we do.

I was on the radio programme along with Trudie Fraser (a member, aged 96), and volunteer Sue Stiling. Trudie, who actually volunteers as a befriender as well, told host Stuart Linnell and his listeners about how she lives in a cul de sac and could easily go all day without seeing as much as a car go by, until she joined Live at Home. And Sue explained how volunteering has helped her; when she started, she was jobhunting but she was very very low and not herself mentally. But now she says she feels much more confident and fulfilled, happy in herself, and it’s really helping with her job search and confidence. (You can do it, Sue – we’re all rooting for you!)

We hear a lot in the news about isolation and loneliness among older people, and how badly this can affect their physical and mental health. But with practical and social support, the chance to get out and about with friends, knowing there’s always help available on the end of a phone line – that’s invaluable. And volunteers like Sue know that being able to help people, doing real, demonstrable good for them, is a great way to boost your own self esteem and mental health. It looks impressive on the CV too.

We’ve been incredibly lucky to have been given a Big Lottery Fund grant of £153,000 last year, spread over five years. We may have 500 members now, but as I said, I’m certain there are plenty more people we could help. So the money’s going towards things like a men’s group, since men can be harder to reach than women. And a falls awareness programme; we want to help keep people safe and give them confidence and security in themselves in their own homes.

Live at Home has been described as a “lifeline” and “a source of friendship” by members all over the country. So if you’re feeling lonely or isolated at home, or would appreciate some new avenues for friendship and support (or if you know someone who’d benefit), please look into finding your nearest Live at Home scheme. Or if you’ve got some spare time, even if it’s just an hour a month, think about volunteering. As Sue says, “You get as much out of it as you put in, maybe even more.” Or maybe be like Trudie and do both!

Ray Gardner

Manager, Northampton Live at Home

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