Despite all the problems associated with the recent lockdown and prospects of a new tier system of restrictions, The Nicky Alliance Centre in Crumpsall, Manchester has worked relentlessly to maintain contact with its members and the elderly within Manchester’s Jewish Community. This has been possible through The Nicky’s increasingly popular Meals on Wheels service and regular telephone calls from volunteers.
This has now received a boost through a generous grant from the National Lottery Community Coronavirus Community Support Fund. Chief Executive of The Nicky, Michelle Wiseman, explains: “The grant is to enable us to continue to subsidise our Meals on Wheels and to purchase some iPads. These tablets, along with some donated laptops, are being loaned to members who haven’t got access to technology of their own, to help them communicate with friends and family, volunteers and staff from The Centre throughout lockdown.
“Some of our members already know how to use them or have family members who can help. Once we are advised that it is safe our volunteers will visit them to show them how to use the tablets and laptops, if needed, and make the most out of the benefits they can provide and bring some semblance of connection with the outside world. We will now be able to hold Zoom or House party chats with members on line and put on quizzes and entertainment.”
The isolation which can result from lockdown is a big worry for Michelle. She said: “The ban on mixing indoors and outdoors can only be detrimental to the effects of dementia and depression. It is a big issue,” she said, recounting a recent call from a carer whose wife had sunk into a “very deep depression.”
Carers were also missing the respite offered by the day centre since it had to close its premises in March. “Every month I keep hoping that we’ll be able to open and with a new vaccine in sight we are preparing The Centre to welcome visitors again,” she said. “We’re ready move as soon as we its safe. In the meantime the continuation of Meals on Wheels, which are available to the whole community, and the additional virtual contact it means our members don’t have to feel so isolated. Rather than just a phone call we can also use the appropriate apps so our members can actually see the friendly faces of the volunteers they are talking to.”
“We are grateful to the Government and the National Lottery Community Fund for the generous grant which will help us to maintain and improve our contact with our members, especially the more vulnerable ones, until we can safely re-open The Centre.”