A Sunderland widower has said Age UK day clubs are the ‘best thing that has happened’ to him.
Ted Tomlinson, lost his wife Isabel two years ago.
A month later, he was approached by a member of Age UK while attending Sunderland Royal Hospital for an appointment, and he was asked to try one of its day clubs. He went two years ago and has never looked back.
Now the 78-year-old is backing the Echo and Age UK Sunderland’s No One Should Have No One campaign, calling on Wearsiders to volunteer to help tackle the scourge of loneliness affecting many elderly residents.
•Read more about the campaign and find out how you can help here
Mr Tomlinson attends three Age UK day clubs every week; All Saints on a Monday; Grange House on a Wednesday and a men’s group at the Bradbury Centre, in Stockton Road, on a Friday.
“It is the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said.
“I had just lost my wife Isabel and had to go and get my eyes done at the infirmary when this lady from Age UK came up to me and asked if I live on my own. I said I do and had just lost my wife.
“She invited me along to a lunch club and I went along to the one at the Bradbury Centre on Stockton Road. Now I go to three. I am quite happy with it, as it gets me out instead of sitting in the house.”
Mr Tomlinson has siblings who live in Yorkshire and three daughters –two of whom live away.
His son Kevin died after being shot at point-blank range as he chased two thieves after a hold-up outside the Co-op Bank in Fawcett Street on March 23, 1987.
Mr Tomlinson said the clubs are a great way of socialising: “I get picked up at the door and they drop me off, so I’m not worried how to get there as I’m not good on my legs,” he said.
“Age UK are great – I get a two-course meal on a Monday and Wednesday and it’s only £6 per group – 50p of that goes into savings for a meal at a restaurant at Christmas.”
The Echo has launched the No One Should Have No One campaign with Age UK Sunderland, aiming to prevent older people feeling isolated.
Mr Tomlinson added: “For people who are lonely, Age UK is a great help.”
To get involved, contact Age UK Sunderland volunteer co-ordinator Barry Hall on 0191 514 1131.