Treats and chats get Chris through lockdown
Ask Chris Murphy what he’s most looking forward to when he’s able to visit Leicester’s Emerald Centre for the first time since the lockdown and he doesn’t hesitate. The 83-year-old chuckled and said, “I’ll have a nice glass of Guinness!”
Chris, who was born in County Limerick, but who has lived most of his life on Leicester’s Saffron Lane Estate, hasn’t been able to visit the National Lottery-funded Centre since the start of the lockdown in March. Established in 2006 as a focal point for the city’s Irish community, it has grown to become a place where elderly people of any ethnicity can meet, learn new skills and get assistance.
Although the Centre closed its doors at the start of the lockdown, it has continued to play an important role in Chris’ life. The retired yard foreman, who never married and lives alone, has received weekly food parcels, phone calls, activity packs and plants and seeds for his beloved garden from the Centre’s team of volunteers.
Chris, who received a letter from the Government in March advising him to shield himself, admits the past few months would have been far more lonely and isolating without the Emerald Centre’s help.
He said, “I’m used to living alone. But when you’re told to isolate yourself it’s a bit different. The visits and the phone calls are great – having a chat to someone shortens the day.”
Kiran Kala, Development Manager at The Emerald Centre, said funding from The National Lottery has helped it tailor its assistance programmes to suit the needs of the more than 150 people it has been helping during the lockdown. For example, South Asian food has been delivered to elderly members of that community, whilst Chris and other members of the Irish diaspora have received treats such as Irish cake and biscuits.
The bespoke approach extends to the activity packs sent to members. In Chris’ case, books by his favourite Irish authors have been located in The Emerald Centre’s library and delivered to his door along with puzzles and word games.
When he gets a phone call from one of the Centre’s volunteers they know they’ll be called on to discuss the finer points of cricket and hurling, his favourite sports.
While the prospect of a pint of Guinness at The Emerald Centre still seems some way off, Chris is grateful to the National Lottery players who have helped The Emerald Centre take care of its elderly members. He said, “It’s great that people are playing The National Lottery and helping us.”
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16th July 2020
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