Working Together to Support Local Veterans

Blackpool Coastal Housing referred Ronald, a 94-year-old gentleman into us on the 18th August 2020 as part of our Tackling Loneliness Together project, where we were able to offer weekly phone calls, garden gate visits and online social groups. Ronald was having to self-isolate and shield since March 2020, where he felt extremely isolated and had not left his house for anything other than hospital visits. After our introductory phone call with Ron, it was intriguing to hear about his days in the armed forces, his passion for ballroom dancing and that he was once a ballroom champion.

Our first garden gate visit with Ronald, pictured here was on his birthday where we were supported by external partners, Blackpool Coastal Housing and British Red Cross and were able to take balloons and gifts round. He mentioned: ‘it was so amazing to be able to see people and it was even more special that it was my birthday. I appreciated it so much’.

Since our initial contact with Ronald, he has received weekly phone calls, which further evolved to weekly Skype calls accompanied by Blackpool Coastal Housing.

Thanks to the amazing support we received from external partners, Blackpool Coastal Housing referred another gentleman, Jack, to us, who was ex armed forces and also had a passion for ballroom dancing.

At first, we introduced Jack and Ronald via phone call conversations, which were fantastic, however this soon progressed to Skype calls where they were both eventually able to see each other. We were then able to get Jack and Ronald meeting on via Skype on a weekly basis.

Later in the year, Blackpool FC Community Trust coordinated a Christmas Day campaign where a number of staff volunteered their time to go out and visit our Tackling Loneliness Together participants who would not see or speak to anyone on Christmas day.

Thanks to local businesses and schools, we were able to deliver cards and gifts. Ronald was a participant who we visited, he was over the moon and said, ‘considering I thought I would be alone on Christmas Day, it was an extremely nice feeling when I found out I would be receiving a visit on Christmas Day. To receive gifts and cards on the day itself was a surprise and filled me with joy’.

After the success of the Christmas Day campaign, Community Trust staff volunteered more of their time to deliver Easter Eggs and spend some time with participants on Easter Sunday. It was a pleasure to visit Ron again on this day too.

Whilst the Community Trust and Blackpool Coastal Housing continue to support Ron, we sadly discovered that Ron’s garden was massively over grown. This was something that upset Ron, as he was not able to sit out in his garden and enjoy the glorious sunshine and couldn’t do anything about it himself.

We are delighted to share that together our NCS team and Redeeming Our Communities have tidied Ronald’s garden. He can now get out and enjoy time outside without the overgrowth that had previously taken over.

Ronald mentioned, ‘it has been something that has upset me for a long time. As I cannot manage the garden anymore, I have just been watching it over grow. To be supported in this way and have my garden tidied up means the world to me and I cannot wait to sit out when we have lovely weather.’

Nathan Davies, Community Engagement Team Leader at the Community Trust said, “we are so grateful that ROC and our NCS team were able to come out and tidy Ronald’s garden for him. This shows how huge the impact can be when services come together to support the wider community. To see the smile on Ronald’s face when he could see the change in his garden made it all worthwhile and we can’t wait have garden gate visits with Ron and be able to sit out in his garden.’