How Wigan Athletic Community Trust supported 'very lonely' woman after husband's death
For 77 year-old Avril Makin, Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Extra Time Hub provided her with a chance to reconnect with the things she enjoyed doing.
Prior to the passing of husband Jim, in 2019, following a long battle with dementia, Avril spent her time caring and looking after the man she had been married to for 57 years.
Funded by the National Lottery and Sport England and backed by the EFL Trust the initiative aims to make a positive difference to the lives of semi-retired and retired people.
Having grabbed her attention whilst at Leigh Miners Welfare Institute, Avril became a regular member at the weekly session.
Speaking during Loneliness Awareness Week, she said: “I lost my husband in July 2019 after a very long struggle with dementia and up to that point I’d had to give up most of my activities as I was always looking after him and taking care of him up until he went into care.
“Even when he went into care I was visiting him from 12 in the afternoon until 10pm at night and I was gutted that he had to be there.
“When he passed away I thought I had to get back into some sort of activities because I had lost touch with everything.
“I came across the Extra Time Hub when I was in Leigh Miners one day doing something else.
“I’d happened to see it on the noticeboard, popped in to have a look and thought it looked good and I was hooked from there.
“I liked the fact there was table tennis, quizzes and other activities going on and I thought how great it was as it was something I wanted to get back involved with.
“I went on my own the first time and really enjoyed it and from then some of my friends have become involved too.
“There is such a variety of activities on the go, we’ve had ballroom dancing, scrabble, there’s just so much going on and you never knew what you’d be doing each week which gave you something to look forward too.
“The staff are just so vibrant, full of fun and during the pandemic they have kept us laughing. I’m very grateful to the Extra Time Hub as it dug me out of a very lonely hole.”
Following the postponement of sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members have been supported in a number of ways from staff including over 50 virtual coffee mornings, over 500 weekly phone calls and the delivery of 300 goody bags.
Despite the absence of face-to-face sessions, Avril says the support during the pandemic has been very important.
“It was only three or four weeks from getting involved that everything got shut down with the pandemic.
“After Jim had gone, making sure I had something to do was my way of dealing with it so when the pandemic came all that stopped. I was frightened of going anywhere.
“But having the online sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday meant I did have something to look forward too, gave me some sort of routine and meant I didn’t feel lonely.
“The online sessions have helped me physically, mentally and emotionally and we have had such laughs together.
“The company of each other has been important particularly with not being able to go out and see your friends.
“With restrictions now easing I’ve been able to do crown green bowling, join in walking groups and most recently attend a picnic in the park which was fabulous.
“It’s giving me a focus again now as we are now allowed to do more things and has given me something to look forward to.
“Extra Time is hugely important to me and I’d hate it to finish because I love the structure to it and the variety on offer.
“It’s vital for us mentally, physically emotionally and socially and every part of our needs through this are met.”
For more information on the Extra Time Hub, please contact Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Extra Time Hub Activator, Christine Blundell, by emailing [email protected] or calling 01942 318090.
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