This Christmas, The Salvation Army will provide assistance to more than 17,000 families and individuals across the country—people who find the pressures of Christmas kill their joy and hope. This help will be provided in the form of food parcels, counselling, advocacy, budgeting and accommodation assistance to those in greatest need.
When Ruby’s partner of 20 years died she was so lonely she would go and sit in the waiting room at her doctors every day, just for someone to talk to.
A generous woman in her 80’s with no family around, Ruby would make cakes to share and stay all day in the waiting room chatting. Seeing her loneliness the staff decided to get in touch with The Salvation Army.
Although she did have a few friends from a knitting group she was part of, Ruby was clearly in need of more company. So, the Army matched Ruby up with Angela, a volunteer for its Senior Services Friendship Programme. Angela has been visiting Ruby each week as a friend and support for the last two and a half years.
‘She has no one else in the world, apart from me,’ Angela says. ‘When I first started visiting her, she was in her own home. I’d take her out for lunch or to do her groceries. For her birthday that year we put on a birthday part her and the knitting group came. Later she had to move into a rest home and we haven’t been able to do that.’
Angela says she and Ruby hit it off straight away and they have been firm friends ever since. Ruby waits eagerly for her visit each week and Angela says the friendship has been good for her too.
‘It’s not just a one way street, it’s definitely two way. I get back heaps from it. I see in some rest homes, that some people do not have anyone. For us, it’s been great.’
Through ill-health and loneliness Ruby has maintained her positive, caring personality, Angela says.
‘She has got an amazing sense of humour and she’s always looking on the bright side. I take her chocolate when I visit her at the rest home and the first thing she does is share it round.’
Along with celebrating birthdays together, Angela says Christmas is special time for her and Ruby.
‘She told me, the first Christmas she was by herself she went next door to her neighbours and said, “Would it be alright, if I brought my plate of food and ate it with you?” And they refused her. When I heard that I said, “That’s not going to happen to you again.”’
Instead, Angela says, Ruby has come to her for Christmas the past two years and the pair are already getting excited to share the special day together this year.
Please support this year's Salvation Army Christmas Appeal, and bring hope to life for seniors living in isolation and loneliness. You can donate online by clicking here or by phoning 0800 53 00 00.