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Older people get set for winter motoring

16 December 2013

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As winter approaches, most of us take for granted the car we rely on to get us from A to B. But what if you are older, alone and completely reliant on your car to keep in touch with the outside world – especially if you live in a rural area?

The Touchstones project has come up with an innovative set of workshops for older people, including one teaching car maintenance. These are free and offered to older bereaved people who rely on their car to go shopping, attend medical appointments and make social calls.

One group member Sue, 72, lost her husband six years ago. Here she explains how Touchstones has made such a difference to her life.

“When I lost my husband six years ago, I was completely on my own – my son and daughter and two grandchildren live in London, with my sister living in South Wales so I was completely reliant on friends.

“I felt very lonely – once you come home, you shut the door and you are in the house on your own. You lack the confidence to get back into the big wide world again. My husband had been poorly for quite a while before he died so I was restricted before I was a widow and had to give up some of my social activities.

“Losing my husband was destavating in itself, but until that moment you are part of a partnership, you have a confidante, you have company. As well as grieving, you have to learn to live alone, deal with ‘social’ situations, re-build your life and learn to take on new challenges. I felt very insular. I had my friends but even they were all in couples and although they would try to include me in things it just isn’t the same.

“At Touchstones it is lovely because everyone in the group has similar circumstances to mine. They are a friendly group and we all learn a lot from each other and we do have lots of fun too! We have been involved in lots of different activities, including chairobics, computing with local children, sewing, cooking and more recently the car maintenance workshop.

“Having a car is really important to me as I live quite a walk away from the local bus stop and having arthritis means that it is difficult for me to walk up and down hills, so I do really need it. The car workshop was really interesting – I had never been in a garage like that.

“I  wish Touchstones had come into my life a lot sooner, it takes time to build your confidence back up when you lose someone and the project has definitely helped me. It is funny but only in the last six months, old friends have said to me that I have actually come out of my shell and that I am a different person to what I was five years ago.”

Touchstones is a project working with bereaved older people in Harrogate, Craven and Wakefield and is a partnership between Rural Action Yorkshire and Age UK. It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Silver Dreams Fund.

Are you involved in a project working with older people? Leave your comments on the blog below or join in the conversation on Twitter by following @BiglfOlderPeop and using #biglf.

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