Fifty representatives of many of Wellingborough’s welfare organisations will meet tonight to plan a war against loneliness and want among the town’s old people. And their plan of campaign will almost certainly be modelled on that of Rushden’s Senior Citizens Welfare Committee.
Wellingborough Rotarians the mainspring behind the scheme hope that from tonight’s meeting at the Council chamber, a comprehensive town project will be formed so that in future old people will have regular visitors, a pool of “experts” to advise on all sorts of problems, companionship, and help where it is most needed.
If other organisations who attend the meeting agree, a central co-ordinating committee will almost certainly be formed. In turn there will be ward committees to cover each of the town’s wards including Finedon and so down to street level representatives.
The idea is to find out the extent of the problems that old people have to face, and do something practical to alleviate their hardships.
Active old people will be asked to help in the scheme to assist those who cannot always look after themselves.
The Rotarians feel that many organisations in the town are doing a splendid job already. But without a coordinating committee, there must be cases where the work of organisations overlap and some people are missed out. These are the ones who need help especially.
At their weekly luncheon on Monday, Rotarians heard from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. P. X. Bermingham, some of the ways they could help older people. Left alone, old people tended to deteriorate quickly, until they became a case for the local authority to deal with, he pointed out.
Although there were many organisations sponsored both by the local authority and voluntary bodies, doing excellent work, more could be done, he suggested. He put forward the idea of an old people’s community centre, where advice could be given on diet and other problems associated with old age.
There was no doubt that Rushden’s very successful scheme for helping their old people has influenced Rotarians in their ideas.
Members were amazed to learn that twice as many meals were delivered from the “meals on wheels service” at Rushden than at Wellingborough, and at Christmas some 800 parcels were given to the elderly there. Every old person received a gift, and not just those considered to be needy people.
Dr. Bermingham had told Rotarians that a community which looked after both old and young was indeed one to be proud of.
If the ready response that has already been shown to this scheme is maintained and developed, Wellingborough indeed will be able to hold its head high for the way it has looked after the old folk at home.
But if this idea is allowed to wither and die after only a few months of enthusiasm, none of us, as citizens, will be able to look our elderly people in the eye or dare to glance in the direction of Rushden.