Nice to see you again... older folks meet up after isolation
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
MANY elderly dale residents are leaving their homes for the first time in more than a year thanks to new support groups set up by Teesdale Day Clubs.
The groups began meeting when coronavirus restrictions were lifted last month, giving many vulnerable people their first face-to-face social interaction since March last year.
One of those to benefit is 97-year-old Annie Hutchinson who joined a group meeting at Barnard Castle Cricket Club last week.
She described her first outing since lockdown as being like a trip abroad.
Mrs Hutchinson said: “It is such a long time since I have been out of my flat. If my niece hadn’t come with me today, I wouldn’t have come.
“Nobody believes me but I am quite happy in my flat. I was a farmer’s wife for 57 years so I am used to it [isolation].”
Her family farmed at Stainmore, near the Cumbrian border.
Explaining the need for the support groups lunch club leader, Tracy Turnbull said: “It is to ease people back into going out. A lot of our members haven’t been out at all. It is to bring back that familiarity for them.
“It is not so much the fear of coronavirus, it is the confidence of getting out because so much has changed.”
Instead of the usual lunches, the support sessions provide only tea, coffee and scones and cakes for people to enjoy while socialising. In line with current Covid-19 rules the sessions are limited to a maximum of 30 people.
She added that Teesdale Lunch Clubs had taken a “softly, softly” approach to getting back to the usual weekly lunches, which are planned for late next month, and a number of safety measures had been put in place.
This included having all staff’s Covid-19 vaccinations fast-tracked and volunteers taking lateral flow tests twice a week.
A scheme to provide as many as 130 hot meals delivered to day clubs members each week is being scaled back as the face-to-face sessions are expanded.