Key worker shares experience of supporting elderly Wiganers during the lockdown

Behind the scenes an army of helpers and volunteers are working every day to support elderly people across Wigan.
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One of them is Vicky Smallwood a home helper for Age UK Wigan borough who spends around 20 hours a week looking after those in need.

Former teacher Vicky, pictured, from Ashton, helps by collecting food and medication, or just being there as someone to speak to.

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She said: “We just want to make it easier for people to live more independently at home. I have a lot of people I regularly see and being there is even more important at the moment. People are happy to see you because you have gone every week and it makes things feel better.

Vicky SmallwoodVicky Smallwood
Vicky Smallwood

“So many people just want to talk and I love a good chat even if it is from a distance.

“I love what I do, it is so rewarding even though there are some difficult things we deal with.”

Age UK Wigan are continuing to offer help and support during the Covid-19 emergency and are focusing efforts on the home help work while they are unable to run face-to-face events.

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The charity is determined to carry on being there for people who need help in the weeks ahead. In just four days last week they carried out 97 shopping trips.

Vicky starts her day around 9am with details of what needs to be done and who she is going to that day.

“Sometimes it starts with a trip to do shopping, which is made easier by many stores.

She added: “They let me in because I will be doing shopping for a number of people which means I get to do a big shop without any problems.

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“I am really grateful for all the professionals and other workers who support what we do. Being able to see people means we can check on how they are.

“I always say we are the eyes and ears, making sure that people who might not have anyone to help them are ok.

“It isn’t always older people that we see, sometimes if people have been in hospital and get discharged but are living on their own and unable to do things, we can step in to help.

“Every day is different. I have learnt so much along the way. I have so many people I help who have medical conditions that I have to learn about. But most of all I love to have a good chat.”

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Vicky has been doing the work for almost two years and has never looked back. Her advice to anyone thinking of getting involved is “just do it”.

The staff and some volunteers work across the Wigan borough area, including Leigh and Atherton, and can offer emergency and regular shopping, prescription collection, food packs and ‘check n’ chat’ calls.

For help contact Age UK Wigan Borough on 01942 241972 Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm.

You can find out more by visiting

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