Over a cup of hot chocolate and a fruit scone, Terenia Morrison and I discussed the inner workings of Age Concern, a charitable organization which provides services to the elderly of the whole of the United Kingdom. In speaking with her, I became immediately aware that Terenia, a project coordinator with Age Concern’s Norfolk branch, is passionate about her career, and well-aware of the challenges that elderly of the UK face on a day-to-day basis. She has noticed the elderly “are not treated well in this country” and that “our community spirit is not particularly good here,” but believes that Age Concern is doing their part to improve the quality of life for elderly peoples throughout the UK.
Age Concern provides many different products, programs and services to the aged of the UK, including: help with money matters; insurance information; assistance in obtaining energy subsidies; bereavement services; community development; out-reach posts; access to a care home database; and much more. Terenia mentioned two additional programs which I found especially touching. These were the Pabulum and call centre programs.
At call centres across the UK, like the one in Buckinghamshire which opened in 2007, volunteers ring participants once a week to chat and offer a fun quiz which keep the mind active and alert. Terenia stated, “experience tells us that old people want warmth, friendship, and nourishment,” and that the loneliness the elderly so often feel “is palpable.” The call centre provides the friendship that so many aged people long for, and assuages the loneliness they might have felt otherwise.
Pabulum is a program designed specifically for those elderly who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Pabulum frequently hosts “cafés,” themed, 2- or 3-hour sessions run entirely by volunteers consisting of music, lunch, and “reminiscence based activities,” according to the website. The closest Pabulum café venue can be found in nearby Costessey.
Three of my own grandparents have passed away: I was witness to my own grandfather’s gradual deterioration as a result of Alzheimer’s, until he finally passed away in 2007; I watched my other grandfather pass away, also in 2007; I was lying on the bed next to my grandmother, holding her hand, as I watched her take her last breath, in 2005.
Talking with Terenia was a very emotional experience, but one that was also refreshing. It is comforting to know that there are good people and charitable organizations that provide services that are so close to my own heart and my own experiences. Terenia Morrison and her fellow volunteers working with Age Concern are truly special people. Dedicating their time and energy to “improving the lives and providing… dignity to the people of Norfolk,” is a loving sacrifice which the most special people, and kindest hearts, are willing to make.