Elderly and vulnerable people once again have a safety net to rely on after the successful launch of a charity care scheme.
The Evergreen Care Trust began offering its Evergreen Angels service to Stamford residents in November.
The trained Angels make a minimum weekly visit to paying members, and are on call for emergencies.
The scheme was set up to fill a gap left when South Kesteven District Council wardens lost their jobs in April. Lincolnshire County Council launched its new Wellbeing service and stopped funding the district’s warden scheme.
Vera and Norman Bell, who live in the Emlyn’s Gardens complex, are among the 50 members already signed up to the Angels scheme.
Aged 92 and 93, they moved into the complex in 2011 and relied on the wardens for many things.
Vera said: “Any little thing that went wrong, we told the warden and she did her best to rectify it.
“We came here thinking someone was going to care for us. We were worried about what might happen when the wardens lost their jobs.”
Vera and Norman were not the only ones who were concerned about what might happen without wardens. In April last year the Mercury spoke to several sheltered housing complex residents, who said the county council’s Wellbeing service replaced care with “support”. They were worried the system of telephone and alarm calls to a central hub would not provide a fast enough response.
Staff at Evergreen, which provides a range of services to elderly people in Stamford and Bourne, also heard the concerns. So the charity decided to try to fill the gap with its own service, the Evergreen Angels.
Those who sign up to the service receive weekly visits, plus a monthly safety check and emergency call-outs, for £7.50 per week. The service can be tailored to suit an individual’s needs, with more visits if necessary.
Evergreen also hopes to roll out a night service in the coming months to give 24-hour coverage to those who need it.
Vera and Norman are delighted with their Angels so far.
“When they told me about the service I though it was a good idea,” said Vera. “At least someone had offered to keep an eye on us.
“The Wellbeing service guaranteed a two-hour rapid response. You could be dead by then. But the Angels are here in a few minutes. It’s marvellous.
“They visit once a week. We weren’t good at Christmas and they came in most days to see if we were all right.”
Visits from the Angels have given Vera and Norman back the security they felt they lost when the wardens lost their jobs. Vera said: “You feel you have someone there that will come out immediately and sort a problem out.
“It’s nice to know that they are coming to speak to you. It’s a very good service and I would recommend it to anyone, especially if they are living on their own. My daughter lives in the Deepings but there must be people with family a long way away.”
Vera and Norman’s Angels are Jen Ewles and Lindsay Ford. Jen is a former warden and was one of those who lost their jobs in April.
She said: “I was devastated at the time. The main thing was that I had lost my job. But there were also a lot of residents that were going to be left stranded.”
Jen saw the Angels job advertised and had no hesitation applying. She and Lindsay, who was already a support worker for Evergreeen, now see up to 10 people a day through the Angels scheme.
“The service is just wonderful,” said Jen. “It’s a step forward. It’s filling that gap that was left by the wardens.
“The priority is to get out to the people that really need us.”
The service is not just available to those living in sheltered housing. Anyone in the community can sign up for an Angel, even for just a short period of time.
Lindsay said: “People don’t necessarily think they are eligible because they think it’s like a warden service, but it’s for the whole community.”
Evergreen was able to launch the Angels scheme thanks to start-up donations from a number of organisations, including a combined offer from the Rotary Clubs of Stamford and Stamford Burghley, and donations from the Rotary Club of Stamford St Martin’s, Stamford XT, Cummins Generator Technologies and a significant sum from a charitable trust in the town, which asked to remain anonymous.
Angels co-ordinator Bob Mackrill thanked those how helped, and said: “That has given us the best possible launch.
“What we hoped was that by providing a regular supportive presence, people would feel reassured that the Angels were available not only on a regular basis but also in an emergency.
“That has proved to be the case.”
The Angels have also been praised by doctors, social services and other organisations. To find out more call 01780 765900.