Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Wednesday, 6th December 2017

‘I lost my front teeth when I was 12!’ Margaret tells Age UK Lambeth befriender all sorts of stories – she has benefitted hugely from the charity’s help

Age UK Lambeth keeps old folks company at Christmas, and through the rest of the year too

Written by ##author:callumpatterson## for DonateToday

PUBLISHED: ##published## | UPDATED: ##updated##

Margaret Fisher, 83, has benefitted greatly from Age UK Lambeth's Befriending Service

There’s nothing quite like a good chinwag, is there? Londoner Margaret Fisher, 83, loves nothing more than a natter, and Age UK Lambeth is helping to ensure she’s never short of someone to talk to.

Memory Lane

Despite being in her eighties, Margaret recalls her childhood with fondness. ‘My mother said all my school reports said I ‘should take a more active part in class,’’ she remembers. ‘Since then I’ve never stopped talking!’

Margaret lives in Herne Hill – her home for 40 years – and is always glad to welcome guests. Whether they’re old friends over for a game of cards, medical professionals or carers, all visitors are treated to a verbal trip down Memory Lane.

‘I lost my front teeth when I was 12,’ she chuckles, drifting into another reminiscence. ‘I remember lying in the road inspecting the white line. I was like most kids, not doing what I was told.

‘It was the holidays and I went to the hospital with my mother and aunt, who had surgery and needed a check-up. I enjoyed balancing on the kerbstones and didn’t notice that one was chipped – so I over-balanced ended up on the white line of a busy road.

‘I was lucky – the only damage was to my front teeth.

‘My memory isn’t good,’ the octogenarian admits, ‘But I can remember things like that – it’s amazing.’

40% of people aged over 55 in Lambeth live alone.

Age UK Lambeth

A Tale for Every Occasion

With a tale for every occasion, a visit to Margaret’s is never quiet. Vanessa, her daily carer, can’t speak highly enough of her: ‘Margaret’s such a joyful spirit and always meets me with a smile,’ she beams. 

‘I do sit and chat with her during my duties but I’m here to clean up the house, go with her to the hospital or appointments and collect shopping,’ she explains. ‘We realised she needed a befriender who could just sit and talk.’

Fortunately, a charity stood ready to provide Margaret with exactly that.

Rarely Gets a Word In

Age UK Lambeth’s Befriending Service was just what the 83-year-old needed. Her befriender, Lucia, ‘rarely gets a word in, but she loves sitting and listening to Margaret,’ reports Vanessa. 

The charity’s service is a popular one, and this is perhaps unsurprising, given that 40% of residents in the area aged over 55 live alone. It’s certainly had an extremely positive impact on Margaret.

Loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Age UK Lambeth

No One Should Have No One

At a time of year traditionally associated with spending time with loved ones, it is shocking to learn, according to Age UK Lambeth’s research, that 200,000 older people say they haven’t had a conversation with friends or family for a month.

The charity is currently promoting its festive campaign No One Should Have No One on Christmas Day. On the big day, volunteers will be cooking up roast turkey and all the trimmings for some of the most socially isolated older people in the area and inviting them to local community hub Vida’s to enjoy it.

Age UK Lambeth will also be delivering meals to those in their local community who would rather remain at home, ensuring they see at least one friendly face on Christmas Day – an important contribution, as the charity estimates that half a million older people across the country will actually spend the day alone.

The inspirational campaign has garnered celebrity support. British-Australian actress Miriam Margolyes OBE (Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet) commented: ‘I feel terribly sad to hear that more than 80,000 older people in London will be spending Christmas Day alone because they have no-one to spend the day with.

Actress Miriam Margolyes has come out in support of Age UK Lambeth's Christmas 2017 campaign

‘I strongly encourage everyone to support Age UK Lambeth – even the smallest contribution can make an enormous difference,’ she continued.

"No one should have no one. Not at Christmas. Not ever."

Miriam Margolyes OBE

With the stats looking so worrying for older people, Age UK Lambeth’s Befriending services and Christmas campaign become all the more important. A visit from a friendly face gives the opportunity to check on an older person like Margaret’s welfare, as well as bringing them news of an outside world which, for many, can become increasingly distant.

Please help AgeUK Lambeth bridge the gap between older people and the outside world through the vital work they do by donating what you can.