A fun-loving grandmother has thanked a charity for helping boost her social life.
Rosalind Gray, from East Rainton, is still adjusting to life after the loss of her husband Jim in March.
Every Tuesday, she visits a lunch club run by Age UK Sunderland and Shiney Row Advice and Resource Project (SHARP) which she says is one of the highlights of her week.
The 77-year-old joined the group when it was first set up in May this year.
The group meet every week at the SHARP centre, in Beatrice Terace, Shiney Row, where they enjoy a lunch, refreshments and games with their friends.
“I love the club,” Mrs Gray said.
“The volunteers are smashing. There are about 11 men and women who go along and its a nice place to go out. I look forward to it.
“When I go we initally have a cuppa and then have lunch and play bingo and have raffles. I have won quite a few toiletries.
The retired nurse said her son Phillip, 48, visits her every day and the pair share a dog, a Jack Russell called Bez. Her three grandchildren live away, so the group is great from providing company when her son is at work.
Age UK provide a transport service to the club and pick up Rosalind every week, as she struggles to walk far.
Karen McKinney, Age UK co-ordinator for Coalfields, said the club has been good for Mrs Gray as she adjusts to living on her own.
She said Mrs Gray was referred to the group through the Essence Service supporting those with dementia.
“At the centre there is a charity shop called Shiny Things and a lot of the women like to go in there after their lunch and have a good look around and Rosalind is one of them,” she said.
“We also do activities and visits like a recent one from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service who gave a talk.
“The members will also have a free Christmas dinner at Sunderland’s Oak Tree Farm on December 15 from the money raised from the raffles.
“Our volunteers work really hard but we desperately need more volunteers.”
How to help
Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year as we enjoy festive cheer with our families and friends.
But for many elderly folk across Wearside, it can be a very lonely time.
In Sunderland, Age UK estimates there are 42,771 people aged 60 and over who could be classed as lonely or socially isolated. Of those, some 9,982 are over 80.
Age UK says some senior citizens in Sunderland can go for a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
The Sunderland Echo is teaming up with Age UK’s team in the city to launch our No One Should Have No One campaign - urging people to help the charity, particularly by getting involved with its befriending service, which puts volunteers in contact with lonely older people.
Age UK is also calling for local and national government action to recognise loneliness as a serious health hazard and put policies in place to tackle it.
It is asking the public to sign its loneliness petition to make sure no one has no one.
It wants to see the Government and Sunderland City Council develop strategies to map, prevent and address loneliness; evaluate and improve existing services to combat loneliness; and invest in testing and evaluating innovative solutions to loneliness.
To sign the petition online or donate to Age UK, visit the charity’s website.
Alternatively, click here to get a printable version of the petition to sign and send in – get your friends to sign it too.
To get involved in volunteering, contact Age UK Sunderland volunteer co-ordinator Barry Hall on 0191 5141131