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Eleanor Rigby’s church reaches the lonely people

Across the UK, Pilgrims’ Friend Society are training local church members in helping older people, including those with dementia ...

Across the UK, Pilgrims’ Friend Society are training local church members in helping older people, including those with dementia. Louise Morse explains how …

“We’re standing in the cemetery of John Lennon’s old church looking at the gravestone of Eleanor Rigby – my colleague Janet, me, and Paul, the pastoral leader who’d invited us to St Peters in Liverpool.  

"Evidently, the Beatles’ song had it wrong because names on the family headstone showed that Eleanor knew where she belonged: perhaps it was the rhythm in the name that inspired the song.  

“And, because of the work the church is doing she and others in the community would definitely not be lonely today.

“We’d gone to St Peter’s to train team leaders in helping older people, including those with dementia. We do the same for churches all over the country, from Derbyshire to Cornwall, South Wales to Suffolk. 

"Our charity, the Pilgrims’ Friend Society (PFS) has more than 209 years’ experience helping older people and our joy is to share what we know with others who want to do the same. We have a small team of qualified, experienced speakers and a host of resources.

“Later, Paul at St Peter’s wrote to say that team leaders felt uplifted, encouraged and better equipped, especially for people with dementia and their families. Like other fellowships, they are reaching out to people in their own homes as well as in residential care homes and sheltered housing. We are staying alongside to partner with the teams, offering information and support where needed.   

“Feedback is encouraging. A vicar from Torquay told how his church now has a lively group of seniors who are arranging their own outreach and activities. ‘Our Senior Steward is asking me what changes to the premises need to be made,’ wrote an elder of a church in Nottingham that aims to be dementia-friendly. 

“‘You’ve encouraged us to go forward with this,’ wrote another from Kent, and there are many, many more. 

“As social care funding falters, older people are being left vulnerable and alone. We’re seeing the love of God in action as more and more Christians ask, ‘what can we do?’ It isn’t rocket science, but it helps to learn from an organisation that has been doing it for more than 200 years. 

“Check out our website for resources - www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk.”

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