The Evergreen Care Trust supporting the elderly community

Befriending lead Yvette Powell, left, and volunteer co-ordinator Sue Cliffe at Evergreen Care Trust, Stamford
Befriending lead Yvette Powell, left, and volunteer co-ordinator Sue Cliffe at Evergreen Care Trust, Stamford

THE Evergreen Care Trust is a local charity supporting elderly and vulnerable people in the community.

Based on the Stamford Hospital site off Ryhall Road, the trust offers a one-to-one befriending service, operates a soup run and provides lunches, runs a hospital-to-home transport and support service, has its own cleaning team and acts as an advocate for people unable to speak up or act for themselves.

It does not seek government grants or lottery funding but raises its own funds with help from local churches, businesses, individuals via legacies and charity challenges and such organisations as Stamford Rotary Club and Stamford Endowed Schools.

The trust currently has 270 volunteers and staff members covering the Stamford and Bourne area. It also has ambassadors who liaise with other agencies.

Yvette Powell, 61, from Stamford, the trust’s new befriending lead, says there is an ever-increasing workload and a constant need to find more volunteers.

She and her colleagues took note of the Queen’s speech earlier this year in which Her Majesty re-dedicated herself to the British people on the 60th anniversary of her accession and spoke of “the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness” which she hoped people would concentrate on in her diamond jubilee year.

“The Evergreen Care Trust has been advocating this message for years,” says Yvette.

“Our befriending service in Stamford and Bourne helps more than 60 elderly people but we could help more if it weren’t for an urgent need for more volunteers.”

Anyone over the age of 18 who is interested is asked to spare an hour or so a week. Several young people have come forward recently, likening their experience to visiting a grandparent.

Befrienders are matched up to befriendees and the service is free. Spending time with a befriendee can involve making them a cup of tea, playing cards with them or maybe taking them for a walk. The idea is that the volunteer will form a friendship, not just act as a sitter.

The trust has lofty ambitions - taking on the challenge of the next 50 years of an ageing population by getting local communities and churches working together to establish grassroots services.

Setting up a completely new home nursing service along very different lines than what exists today is one idea.

Louise Marsh founded the trust in 2005. As someone who worked in social services, she noticed there was no support for single, elderly people coming out of hospital. An ambulance would take them home but then they were on their own.

“She had a vision of how things should be and got in touch with all the local churches to enlist their help,” says the trust’s new volunteer co-ordinator Sue Cliffe, from Great Casterton.

Sue says there are a lot of lonely people with no family living nearby. They may live in an isolated spot or have moved to the area with a husband or wife who has then died.

“People need a caring hand and there is a shortfall in what social services and neighbours can provide,” she says.

Yvette and Sue say new people are referred to them every day by doctors, social services, families, domestic support workers and other care agencies and they have a waiting list.

“We value our volunteers highly and as we move to drive the trust forward we need more of them,” says Yvette.

When the Meals on Wheels service was withdrawn in 2007 it was the Evergreen Care Trust that stepped in. Using the kitchen at Clare Close sheltered housing complex they make soup and bake and on five days a week take thermos flasks and goodie bags of bread and cakes to people’s homes.

Three-course lunches are made and served in other sheltered housing centres - Hillary Close, St Clement’s, Essex Road and Emlyns Gardens. People are transported there from their homes if necessary and enjoy social interaction with the residents as well as food. Bourne has its own lunch service run by The Butterfield Centre.

The ethos of the trust is Christian and its mission statement says it “seeks to serve older and vulnerable adults in our community by improving their circumstances through advocacy, friendship and practical support”.

High standards, treating everyone with dignity and respect, promoting positive values, supporting independence, encouraging holistic wellbeing and advocating fruitfulness into old age are also aims.

“I don’t think people even realise we do things like a hospital to home service,” says Yvette.

“We pick the patient up, take them home, make them tea and get them settled. With people living longer there are a lot more people needing our support. Some would be otherwise quite isolated.”

The trust can be contacted on 01780 765900 or see the website www.evergreencare.org.uk