In the true spirit of Christmas, selfless volunteers from Age Concern helped countless vulnerable people in Luton over the festive period.
While many people in Luton were enjoying their turkey dinners, volunteers from the charity were visiting lonely pensioners, delivering food parcels and fixing boilers.
Director Colette McKeaveney said Christmas was an extremely busy time for the charity, who are on hand to help every day of the year.
Colette said: “We were really busy over Christmas. It’s a really tough time for some people, lots feel depressed and low, and lots go into hospital.”
The needs of those who called Age Concern over Christmas varied greatly.
On Friday, a 93-year-old man phoned them for help as his boiler had broken down on Christmas Day and he had no heating.
Age Concern handyman Gary Price went out straight away with an emergency heater for the man.
When he got there he realised the man had a combi-boiler and the pressure had dropped, so he was able to fix it there and then.
Colette said: “The guy was over the moon – he had been expecting a big bill for heating repairs.
“He had no family, lives alone and didn’t have anyone to call.
“It was directory enquiries who suggested he try us and we were able to help him within an hour which was very satisfying for Gary.”
The Age Concern team were also called out to search for an elderly lady’s missing cat.
Colette said: “The lady was very very poorly and had missed her hospital appointment. We had to find the cat and then she needed someone to feed it while she was in hospital as there was nobody about to do it over Christmas.”
The storms caused some problems; one elderly man had his front door blown off its hinges by the wind, so Age Concern sent a handyman round immediately to put it back on the hinges.
Other pensioners had leaking windows due to the heavy rain, missing slates from their roofs and flooding.
One man contacted the charity on Christmas Eve when his wife kicked him out and he found himself homeless.
The 66-year-old had left home without his wallet and had nowhere to go, but Age Concern found him somewhere to stay over Christmas, with an old workmate who happened to be an Age Concern volunteer.
There are some scenarios which Age Concern say are all too common among the elderly.
Colette said: “We have so many elderly people who get locked out of their homes, because they go to take the bins out, the wind blows the door shut, and then they are locked out.”
Age Concern clients are usually aged 75 and over, but Colette said younger people in their 50s and 60s have been contacting the charity too and using the advice on their website.
She said: “We are never going to turn anybody away. We are going to find out who we can safely hand them over to, we are not going to send them away without a solution.”
Many people came out of hospital just before Christmas and realised they didn’t have enough food in the house but the shops were closed.
Age Concern sent out food parcels to keep them going until they could get to the shops again.
On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, volunteers visited elderly people who were spending the day alone to keep them company and provide some Christmas cheer.
Colette said: “It’s been such a busy time and all our volunteers have worked so hard, particularly handyman hero Gary Price and Ann Kemp who was in charge of operations, manning the phones and keeping everything going over the holidays.”
If you would like to find out more about Age Concern go to http://ageconcernluton.org.uk/ call 01582 456 812 or visit 39 King Street, Luton.