Sarah Goodall, Head of the KLS Elders Team, explains what’s on offer now for older people in Battersea.
KLS asks: now the Government lock-down means Members of the Elders community can no longer visit 108 Battersea High Street, what is KLS doing about providing its usual high level of support to this important part of the local community?
Sarah: “Obviously, for the time being, we can no longer offer exercise courses on a group basis, but that hasn’t stopped us offering other great ways to stay in touch. For example, we have set up ‘KLS Fone Friends’, where we either call our Members, or our Members can call in. Any other older person can also do the same, whether they are KLS Members or not.
“To ensure exercises continue, we have been giving away DVD discs, so Members can play these at home and exercise that way. To make the lessons more accessible and direct, we are putting the contents on our website. We are also putting other ideas online to keep the Elders community entertained, active and engaged.”
How has this new and practical approach gone down with Elders and others?
“Really well. We started with just 54 home-based Members on March 19. We are now up to 109 (on 7th April). We began by calling those Members we knew to be vulnerable and worried. Over the past seven days – the weekend included – we made over 170 calls to older people.
“Our whole Elders team is involved taking and making phone calls – Dawn, Lisa and me, and now exercise tutors Hannah and Marianna, all soon to be joined by three Elders volunteers, so we can take and make a lot of calls. Give us a try!”
Who and how can the elderly get in touch with you and your team?
“Just call KLS – the number is on our website, but this is it – 0207 223 2845.
“A caller will be phoned back immediately by the KLS Elders team, so no worries about someone on a State pension or benefits having to phone a costly mobile number, we pay for it and there is no limit on the time we spend. And there’s no restriction if you are not a Member, or have never contacted KLS before.”
What do people call about?
“Lots of different things. It can be advice about where to get specialised help, like where to obtain advice or information about care plans and care services, or how to approach the local authority social services. Or it can be about financial problems and advice on benefits and other support. We refer them to organisations and charities set up to provide solutions to anxieties caused by money worries.
“A lot of elderly people call because they are simply lonely – they live alone, they can’t go out and they simply want to talk to someone who will listen. They feel heaps better for doing that.”
A phone call can help, but what about practical things, like getting food, repeat medical prescriptions, or help with a cat or dog?
“We work closely with other charities and help groups in Battersea. Take ‘Battersea Coronavirus Angels’, for example. KLS is part of that local great group, so we can get a volunteer to run errands, go to the shops, fetch parcels, and other day-to-day essentials to deal with self-isolation, limited mobility and other physical hindrances. Telephone 07394 856 557, or email – [email protected]
“We also work with Donna and her incredible supporters on the Kambala Estate, especially over helping distribute food parcels, supplying hot meals and just listening to residents. Other highly active support groups we work with include Age UK Wandsworth, often also about supplying food and meals.”
What advice would you give now to KLS Elders and other older members of the Battersea community?
“Follow the Government’s advice on staying indoors at home, out of harm’s way. If you become poorly with a temperature or start to cough, call the NHS on 111 or your GP. Be persistent as the lines are currently very busy.
“Watch out for bad people trying to take your money or enter your home. Be very careful if you are phoned by someone you don’t know, pretending to be from a bank, or a supplier of phone, electricity, gas or other services. If you are unsure, hang up or shut the door. Don’t give any details or agree to anything. If necessary, call your bank or credit card company and check.
“And remember, always call us – we will either have an answer that will solve a problem. When we can’t, we will always know someone, or an organisation who can.”
Head of the KLS Elders Team
Telephone: 020 7223 2845
Email: [email protected]