My Time to Shine - Sunshine In Leeds
There are lots of organisations and projects supporting older people in the city. Many of them are funded by Time to Shine. Balwinder Kaur introduces Sunshine in Leeds and over the page we hear from two people who have benefitted from the project
Sunshine in Leeds is run by Health for All and funded by the Time to Shine (TTS) programme, which aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness amongst people over 50. There are 3 members of staff: myself, an occupational therapist and a project worker. The main service we provide is one-to-one support where people are inside their homes, care homes, sheltered housing or independent living places. Since the project started in 2018, we have been offering befriending home visits, befriending calls and video calls. Most of our clients are very frail and unable to come out of their houses so for those individuals we only offer home visits
Our project offers a person-centred approach offering services based on
elderly peoples’ needs
Although our project offers one-to-one support, we are passionate about making a difference for older people. Hence we have set up a monthly social group where our clients can connect with other people. We have introduced people to local community groups. We have been having some social gatherings at local cafés. We start with one-to-one coffee meetings and then eventually introduce the idea for them to meet with other people too. We’ve done social gatherings at Roundhay café where 15 people joined, we played quizzes, some people sang and read poems. We have organised small walks, seaside trips, Christmas parties. Last year we took 40 older people to Tong garden and then for a Christmas meal at The Six Acres carvery and dining restaurant.
Our project offers a person-centred approach offering services based on elderly peoples’ needs. We also help to reduce certain barriers, such as attending GP appointments with people who do not have the confidence to go in public, booking appointments on behalf of people, speaking to welfare rights and adult social care for benefits.
For example, one of our clients who was having suicidal thoughts was referred to social services. She was grateful and said, “thank you for looking after me”. Another one of our clients who is disabled (in a wheelchair) and finds it difficult to clean her bathroom. We managed to get her a care worker. Another client is 107 years old - we managed to take her for a coffee because she was desperate to go out.
A few people whose mental health is not good were connected to mental health professionals. Our occupational therapist has been able to support our clients in both a befriending role and that of a health professional. When appropriate, she advises clients on adaptive equipment such as cutlery, writing aids, perching stools and chair raisers. She has assessed and adjusted various equipment such as a kitchen trolley and an over-toilet frame. She has provided lifestyle management education such as pacing, sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques to clients with chronic pain or fatigue-related conditions. During COVID-19 most of our work moved to phone calls, food parcel deliveries and doorstep visits. We started our Zoomchat recently which people enjoyed. Beside this work I have contacted our clients from our previous project who are elderly people from the South Asian Community. We are encouraging them to understand how to operate and meet others via Zoom. Two groups are already meeting on Zoom. We are offering door-step visits to help them to learn these digital skills.
We have supported several people since the project has started and people are giving positive feedback and appreciating the service we offer.
We spoke to two of the participants of Sunshine in Leeds and they were kind enough to share their stories with us.
I was cleaning my bedroom windows about two years ago and I saw Bally passing outside. She was going door-to-door to meet people with another girl. Bally stopped to chat and asked me how I was. She told me about the groups they do and I was quite interested. I’m 83 and I live on my own. Although I do have a large family around me, I haven’t got anyone to talk to day-to-day. Different people, a different way of going about life. I love my family to bits, but you can only talk to them so much.
So, I got involved with Sunshine in Leeds. We went on some nice trips and had a Christmas Dinner. I went to the Temple and did an exercise class. It was so good because everybody was so sweet and friendly. I felt a part of a different group to my family. I could talk to people and we were all “of an age”. Sadly, I had some health issues, so I wasn’t able to go to things. But Bally kept me updated and we chatted on the phone. I still feel part of the group even though we haven’t been able to meet because of shielding and lockdown and one thing and another. Covid put a stop to everything. People I know from the Temple wave at me through the window as they go past. I live near the temple. I may not know them all by name but I know their faces and they wave. All the Sikhs from the Temple were new to me. But now they’re like old friends. So friendly.
I love meeting different people. I am a talker, I could chat for England – or I should say Wales. I was born in London but my parents are Welsh and we moved back to Wales when the war started. I hope I can go back to Sunshine in Leeds when Covid is all over. I’m 83 but I’m not dead yet!
I was contacted by Bally and Annie last November. I got a call because I was getting support from another organisation but after three years my time with them was coming to an end. But I still needed support for my mental health. I suffer from agoraphobia, bulimia, anxiety, panic attacks – and I’m a hoarder. I live alone and I never go out. I’ve suffered for 35 years; I was only 27 when I lost my husband. He passed away in 1985 with leukemia. And I’ve just got worse and worse. There were plenty of organisations I could go to if I could go out – but I couldn’t. Sunshine in Leeds were the one and only organisation that would visit me at home.
They came to see me once every two or three weeks. Sadly, since the lockdown March, it’s been only telephone calls. But it’s been a lifeline for me. You get to know each other – you feel like you’re talking to a friend rather than a support worker.
Just knowing there’s somebody out there that I can ring if I needed. I can ring them any time when I’m depressed and lonely. I go out on average once a year. It’s a complete nightmare going out when you have agoraphobia. I did have to go to hospital at the end of June, which was really bad. It’s been invaluable to
be able to speak to Bally and Annie with all the things that have been going on. They both rang me in June, when I was in hospital, to make sure I was OK. When I came out I was very confused and worried about appointments . Bally and Annie took control and sorted things out for me, which was such a relief. Kindness and friendship in the most distressing time. It’s marvellous and they’re wonderful.
We’ve always spoken about me getting out more. I’m 62 and have two baby granddaughters. I
missed a lot of my son’s life because of my health. We do talk a lot about making progress in the future. We’re working towards the goal that one day I can get myself washed and dressed and step out of my door to go out somewhere – not for a hospital appointment! It’s just so valuable to have maintained my contact with Bally and Annie at Sunshine in Leeds.
Yvonne Hamilton, 62
Sunshine in Leeds is a Health for All project.
For more information contact Balwinder Kaur in the following ways:
Email: Balwinder.Kaur@healthforall.org.ukTelephone: 0113 270 6903