Category Archives: Independent Living

Men’s Sheds Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing.

men's shed, mental health & wellbeingWhat a brilliant idea!! A chance for men to work together and form friendships. Men’s mental health is not always discussed openly but it is an issue. Loss of purpose on retirement, friendships formed through your partner, lack of social activities aimed at men in rural areas – these can all lead to feelings of isolation.

Here we have an international movement helping men’s mental health & wellbeing, Men’s Sheds! a brilliant and simple idea. It can be so much easier to voice and share problems shoulder to shoulder with other men, working on a joint project.

The movement began in Australia when men realised the value of coming together around practical tasks on a regular basis, particularly when they had a designated place or workshop where tools and work in progress could be stored. The first Men’s Shed in England was opened by Age Concern in Hartford in 2009. Now there are nearly 300 helping men’s mental health & wellbeing in the UK.

This link takes you to the Men’s Shed page and you can search for your nearest Shed. In East Anglia there are currently 20, with 9 more in the pipeline.

Henry from Poringland Men’s Shed says “It’s all about guys working together and forming friendships. Men tend not to have the social networks that women have. We talk better shoulder to shoulder whilst working together, than face to face”. The Poringland & District Men’s Shed Team work with South Norfolk Council as a recycling hub and are about to paint Arminghall Village Hall.

Which brings us to the other great thing about Men’s Shed’s, they will try to fix anything. So if you have something that needs fixing but is not economical to mend – try taking it along to your local Men’s Shed!



Could a Virtual Assistant be the answer in Older Age?

Could a Virtual Assistant answer to your care needs in older ageIt is true that getting older can have its challenges when all we want to do is maintain our independence amidst those challenges.  At different stages of the process we often need some support to ensure our independence is maintained for as long as possible.  Our ability to deal with everyday tasks such as cleaning, gardening, transport and other areas can become impaired along the way.  Other times we just do not have the time and prefer to have someone else do it so that we can be free to pursue more enjoyable activities.

Older age and technology

The increasing need to deal with technology as part of our daily lives just to maintain our lives can be very challenging for some of us – tasks like paying bills, banking etc.  If managing your personal business affairs is difficult, then having the support of someone you can trust on a regular basis could be the answer.

The growth of technology has encouraged the birth of the  “Virtual Assistant” otherwise known as a VA. This new industry is growing and a VA offers a wide range of skills and experience having started life as an Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant or a PA in the corporate world.

Such highly skilled people can bring these support services and skills to the domestic and home environment, working with individuals as well as Care organisations.

I am Stella Gooch of SMG Virtual PA and am a good example of a Virtual Assistant with a variety of experience in this arena.

A service to support older people

When my mother-in-law developed ill health in her later years, she relocated to be closer to us as it was clear she could not manage on her own.  Although we were able to support her living independently, we were constantly having a battle to get her to accept that support.  I am sure it is a familiar story in many families.  This gave me the idea that there is a need for a service to provide general admin support to older people who want to maintain their independence on their own terms.  Help like this can be purchased on an hourly basis with no long term commitment but longer term contracts can also be arranged.

It costs nothing to have a chat with Stella, and you never know but you might just find the help you are looking for by doing so.

Stella’s contact details are:  07788 645157  – Email:

Stella Gooch, Virtual Assistant

26th May 2017

Independent Living in Norfolk and the Handyman Service

HandyPerson Services in Norfolk for Independent LivingI was recently in a meeting talking to a ‘Handyman’. This particular gent works for Broadland District Council and told me it can be hard to get the message out. To tell people there is a subsidised / free service for older people, to support independent living and staying safe at home.

Six of the Seven Norfolk District Councils offer the Service supporting Independent Living

So I looked into it. Six of the seven District Councils in Norfolk offer a Handyperson Service (Breckland Council doesn’t). Eligibility and cost vary slightly over the rest of Norfolk but the remit is the same. If you are elderly and need a small job doing in your home your local HandyPerson service can help you. This could be fitting grab rails, putting up shelves or installing a keysafe. Maybe fitting an access ramp, moving heavy furniture or fixing  leaking tap.

South Norfolk District Council offer their Handyman Service to everyone (any age) for £20 / hr, subsidized if you are over 65. Norwich City Council’s Handy Van Scheme is only for over 65’s and charges £15 / hr. This is the same as Broadland D.C.s Handy Person +, although these also offer signposting and information as part of their service. North Norfolk D.C. use the Benjamin Foundation to deliver their scheme, Ben’s Workforce, to the over 65’s.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council’s Handyperson Service is delivered by Safe at Home for £20 / hr to over 60’s, as is the Handyperson  Service in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, delivered by the Careline Community Service.

In all cases these prices are lowered or waived if you are on means-tested benefits.

So stop looking at the front door that needs repainting, wondering how to get it done. Try your local council, get it done for a fixed rate by a trustworthy Handyperson.

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Lifeline Alarms aid Independent Living in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Maggie’s Centres and the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital’s Cancer Centre

maggies-2The story of Maggie Keswick Jencks

Touring the car-parks looking for a space in a busy cancer hospital will reveal a small modern building set apart in the grounds. This is the Cancer Centre.

Maggie Keswick Jencks was a designer, married to architect and designer Charles Jencks. After being diagnosed with cancer, Maggie worked to create a blueprint for a place for people affected by cancer, different from a traditional hospital.

“Maggie got her diagnosis in a 20-minute slot with her consultant, who then said ‘I’m really sorry, I know it’s terrible news, but I’ve got another patient to see.’ And she was in shock. She got put out into one of these stereotypical corridors with nowhere to sit, and all she wanted was to go and have a cry and take it all in.”

The emergence of a blueprint:

Maggie wanted to have a more human place to absorb what was happenContact care explains Cancer Centresing. Consequently, she thought about what patients and families need during cancer diagnosis and treatment. The brief she came up with is hard to categorise. “So it’s a bit more than a house, but it’s not a house, and it’s into art, but it’s not an art gallery, and it’s kind of spiritual, but it’s not a church, and it’s like a hospital, but it’s not medical.”

So Maggie started something amazing before she died in June 1995. The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996. As a result there are now 15 Centers at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK.

Norfolk and Norwich Hospital:

At NNUH the Big C Centre follows the same blueprint. So does the Louise Hamilton Centre at James Paget Hospital. Thus, these centers are providing counselling, family therapy, complementary therapies, courses on looking good, feeling good and eating well. All in an airy, light, comfortable environment where you are free to make a cup of tea and relax.

Big C is Norfolk’s Cancer Charity, and you can find them in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norich Hospital. They can offer you:Big C centre Norfolk and Norwich Hospital

Welfare Advice
Look Good Feel Better
Family Therapy
Relaxation Group
Complementary Therapies
Headwear Options
Healthy Matters
Bereavement Support Group
Food and Nutrition Workshops
Carers’ Club
Cancer Information Day – Living Well with and after cancer
The HOPE Course

Kat Navarro

Contact Care Elderly Alarms: covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire.