The work we do
Alf was only a child during the Second World War, but almost as soon as it ended he was called upon to do his National Service.
He joined RAF Central Communications in Leighton Buzzard in 1946, and stayed with them until his return to civilian life in 1949 – missing out on the foreign travel that some of his contemporaries experienced in other services.
As a youngster he had already worked for L.M.S. (London, Midland and Scottish Railway). In 1948 it was nationalised along with all the other main regional railway companies to form British Rail. After finishing his National Service, Alf returned to work for them, occupying a variety of roles over the years, eventually becoming a train driver. These were the last years of steam trains in the UK, which were eventually replaced by the cleaner, but less romantic, diesel and electric locomotives in the 1960s.
Alf has lived for many years in his council house in Carnforth, Lancashire, and has a number of pictures on his sitting room walls of steam trains in action, plus one or two of RAF aircraft, as a reminder of his National Service years.
Alf comes to the attention of Age UK Lancashire
Alf first came to the attention of Age UK Lancashire in 2017. Aged 89, his health had deteriorated, and he’d developed conditions affecting his eyesight, mobility, and memory. He would have struggled were it not for the sterling support of several old friends – one a neighbour, the other the widow of one of his railway buddies. Without their support he admits he could easily have lost hope. The strain of looking after Alf had started to take its toll on both of them too, however.
Alf had also started to worry about his finances. Some years earlier he had been conned out of a substantial sum of money, so didn’t have anything in the way of savings. This, combined with the fact he was becoming more socially isolated as a result of his declining health meant that, according to a friend, Alf’s situation was 'spiralling out of control'.
This wasn’t helped by Alf (pictured) being released from hospital in April 2017 without a care package in place. Age UK Lancashire’s Discharge Aftercare Service there contacted the ward to request they get in touch with the Crisis Care Team in order rectify this, and told Alf and his friends about local support.
Trying to make life easier for Alf
Alf had long used a twin-tub washing machine, but this had become a lot more difficult for him. The Discharge Aftercare Service therefore put in a request to SSAFA for funding for a new automatic washing machine.
In December 2017, Alf was back in hospital following a fall, so once again required the services of the Discharge Aftercare Team. By this time a local care agency was involved to help with his shopping and cleaning. The carers were unable to assist with Alf’s laundry, however, as the SSAFA-funded washer couldn’t be delivered because there was no plumbing installed. The carers were not permitted to use his old twin-tub because of the Health and Safety issues associated with wheeling it across the kitchen, meaning that Alf’s friends were still doing all his laundry, and finding it increasingly difficult. Discharge Aftercare Service provided information about local laundry services, which would help take some of the strain out of doing Alf’s laundry.
Discharge Aftercare Service contacted Lancaster City Council to see about getting the kitchen plumbing altered, but was told that they could not do this anytime soon, as the whole street was due to have its kitchens upgraded in the summer of 2018. Alf would have to wait until the summer, or possibly make arrangements to have his gas meter moved to an external meter box in order to free up a cupboard for the new washing machine and its plumbing. This would cost something in the region of £700!
In January 2018, the Lancashire Older Veterans Service contacted SSAFA and learned that, in theory, moving a gas meter was something they might be able to find funding for, and arranged to visit Alf and his friends to check out the practicalities, and also to see how they were all doing.
As well as the washing machine requirement, it turned out that Alf’s vacuum cleaner and fridge were also less than satisfactory, and it was agreed to ask SSAFA if they could help to fund replacements for these too.
The Older Veterans Service kept in touch with Alf’s friends over the next few weeks to see how things were progressing. Lancaster City Council eventually decided that they could install the required plumbing after all. By mid-March SSAFA was able to confirm funding for all the requested appliances – a washer/dryer, a fridge-freezer, a vacuum cleaner and a microwave – (the gas meter relocation no longer being required), and they would contact Alf’s friends to confirm a delivery date.
By April all of the items had been delivered and installed, and life was starting to get a lot easier for all concerned. Initially a bit confused by all his new gadgets Alf soon got used to them.
When asked what he thought of the service he had received from the various Age UK Lancashire services who had supported him, Alf said, ‘They were very good.’ His friend chipped in to add that they’d been ‘excellent and supportive’, and were really appreciative of the assistance they’d received, and grateful to SSAFA for funding the appliances which are now making such a world of difference to the quality of at least three people’s lives.