This morning I stood in the rain for nearly two hours in Cressingham Park, Burnt Oak watching Watling FC beat Ruislip Rangers 6-3. It was miserable and freezing, the experience lightened only by the great football being played. Myself and another dad huddled under an umbrella shivering, looking forward to a nice cup of tea in our comfy centrally heated homes. It felt like winter had come early.
As I shivered, my thoughts turned briefly to Friern Barnet library. During talks with council officials two weeks ago, I asked them if they were aware that for many elderly people, who struggle with electricity and gas bills, a library is a place to stay warm during the winter. They seemed to be slightly put out by the idea that people were not using libraries for their primary purpose. One of the officials said something along the lines "It is not the job of the library service to keep pensioners warm", before realizing how crass this sounded.
There are hundreds of elderly people in Barnet who will struggle this winter. As a community, I believe we should do what we can to support our neighbours. There are many ways that we can do this. Get to know elderly neighbours and make sure they have your telephone number. Tell them that if they are unwell and need shopping or other errands to get in touch. If there is snow or ice, see if they need any help shopping. Let them know it's Ok to ask if they need some help.
Many people worry that they will end up becoming "lumbered" with helping elderly neighbours. Just giving them a bit of support is usually appreciated and most are too proud to ask. If someone becomes too dependent, have a word with Age UK or another charity which deals with the elderly. They have backup services that can help. If you can't help someone or they are becoming too demanding, work with local charities and the local authority to get the help for the person. If they are asking it is because they have a need.
I think we need to act as good neighbours. We may well be there one day ourselves.
Here is the website for Age UK Barnet - If for any reason you can't help, consider giving a few quid so someone else can - http://www.ageuk.org.uk/barnet/