Living window display focuses on loneliness among elderly

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An 87 year-old woman sat alone in the window of a charity shop in Daventry on Monday, October 20 to highlight the effect of loneliness on the elderly.

Pensioner Caroline Vass worked as a volunteer at Age UK on Bowen Square for four years with her daughter 
Donna Haddon, who manages the store.

Caroline Vass.

Caroline Vass.

Mrs Vass, a former hotel manager from Weedon, said she hoped to highlight the isolation some people experience in their later years.

She said: “I’m at a place where I’m not going out and there isn’t a lot of activity going on. I love people, I love to be with people, I can’t help it.

“I used to work on the till and I loved coming in and talking to people, but life can now be lonely sometimes.”

Age UK is one of the country’s largest charities working to support older people. The charity provides friendship and outreach programmes, advice phone lines and local support services across the country.

In particular, Age UK aims to tackle the issue of loneliness, which according to researchers affects more than one million elderly people in the UK, with many not having any contact with the outside world for over a month.

The living exhibition forms a part of the ‘The Big Bag Challenge’, a four-week campaign to increase store donations.

Age UK stores are aiming to gather more than 200,000 bags of stock to increase store profits for the charity.

The campaign was launched this week, gaining the support of celebrities including Lord Alan Sugar and Barbara Windsor.

Store manager Mrs Haddon has worked in both retail and nursing and is passionate about the role Age UK can play in supporting older people.

She appealed for Daventry residents to donate their unwanted items to the store. She said:“It is hard to get people to donate. I am lucky if I get 10 bags a week. People come in and seem to think we get our stock for free, but I had to buy 175 bags of stock this week.

“Each bag is a matter of one of our volunteers being able to give an older person a phone call and taking them out to dinner or leaving them alone.

“Even two items can make a hell of a difference.

“We have many volunteers who work for us for free, but there are lots of peripheral costs. These include phone bills and petrol.

“We really want to get more younger people into the shops. We have really good stock, we don’t put out substandard stuff. Our store offers a great choice of branded items in great condition.”

Age UK volunteers will be taking part in a number of activities during the campaign, including handing out bags outside Waitrose on November 5. Some intrepid volunteers will also be dressing up in Viking outfits made of donation bags on November 8.