“A simple good deed of signing for a few parcels has turned into a real connection with neighbours”

Leeds Written by Dawn Newsome, Chief Executive Officer at Armley Helping Hands

In our community there is a 79-year-old lady who lives on her own. She does have family who she sees at weekends, but during the week she didn’t see anyone, and each day was like groundhog day. She felt quite lonely not speaking to anyone each day. But she’s managed to build a really lovely relationship with her neighbours – all because of the postman. It all started when delivery drivers would knock on her door and ask if she could take in her neighbours’ parcels, because they’re all out in the day at work. She was more than happy to do that, because it meant she was chatting to the delivery driver.

Then some of her neighbours asked her if she would mind if they had the parcels directly to her address, and they would collect them in the evening. She said of course, she didn’t mind. So now she takes in all the parcels on behalf of her neighbours. It means she chats to the delivery driver most days, and has built a nice relationship with him. And in the evenings, her neighbours drop in to collect their parcels.
They don’t just take their post and go, they stay for a cup of tea and a chat so she has lots of social interaction during the week and because this relationship has developed, her neighbours now look out for her. They might ring her on their way home from work and ask if she needs anything from the shops. She’s helping them by taking in their parcels, but they’re helping her out in return. When she had a fall a few months ago, her neighbours went to visit her in hospital and looked in on her when she went home.

It’s nice for her family to know she has that support in her street. It just shows the positive impact neighbourhood connections can have. Her simple good deed of signing for a few parcels has turned into a real connection with her neighbours. It’s a shame that we’ve lost that connectivity in our society, people move around so much now we don’t know our neighbours like we used to. Older people used to be able to name all the people who lived on their street – now they don’t.

There is less footfall in the streets nowadays – everyone jumps into their car and drives somewhere, so there’s less chance of bumping into someone you know. Older people can find all this quite isolating. It doesn’t take much to make a difference to someone’s life, as this story shows.”

Armley Helping Hands is a registered charity supporting older people in Armley and Wortley, Leeds. Its aim is to help older people in the community maintain their independence with a combination of support and social activities.

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