Message from DC Louise Scott
June 15th is being highlighted this year to bring attention to members of our community who can sometimes be overlooked.
No matter what we do in our younger years all of us will at some point be of an age that we consider to be old. I personally feel it is easy to convince ourselves this will never happen. We tell ourselves we will always be active. We will never be on our own, we won’t let life get the better of us and everyday will be lived to the full.
But it must be remembered that the older persons in our communities have worked all their lives and brought up families. They have been an integral part of how we all live today. As such, we should respect that older persons may need a little help or that they may just need some company every now and then. As the younger generation, we should take into consideration what will happen to us when we reach old age. Will our family and friends be around to support us? Or will they move away?
St Helena has its own unique geography, many who lived happily in peace and tranquillity now find themselves at a disadvantage and isolated, unable to move around as they once did. I am sure if you take a moment to think you will recall a neighbour who you know lives in your area but that you don’t see often. Have you ever considered dropping by on the off chance and spending some time to have a chat with them?
I am currently working on the Island in the Criminal Investigations Department. I have been lucky enough to be working with St Helena’s Police Officers who regularly visit the elderly and isolated in our community. This is to assure us that people are safe. It is also a priority for our police service to engage with the community. All those who received a visit were happy to see someone, we were always welcome.
With this in mind, I have asked a couple of officers I work with to speak to members of the community. Firstly PC Sandra Henry spoke to Noreen Stevens (see photo attached) who is 82 years old and kindly agreed to speak to us.
“You can’t deny your age but I am still able to get about and do things for myself. I keep my own home clean and tidy. I do my own laundry and cook my own meals when my granddaughter is unable to cook for me.
“I still like to travel overseas to see my family. The last time I travelled was to the UK in 2015.
“But as much as I love my garden I can no longer get out to do it. I had a stroke in the year 2015 and this has put me back. It prevents me from doing things I want to do. I have difficulty with getting in and out of the bus when I go to town.
“Personally, I feel some younger people do not have respect for us, the elderly. But I am very supported by my family who are all overseas except my granddaughter who is here on the Island. She calls and visits me every morning and afternoon to make sure I am well. By the same token, I feel I can always contact my family should I need anything.
“I would like to see better transport facilities for the elderly to take us to and from home, I would also love to have visits from other people other than from the police or social services, even if they just made a phone call if they were not able to come and see me. It would be nice to know that someone cares about you.
“I don’t always get invited to events in the community but I do go to Coffee Mornings and tea parties when I am invited. Although I don’t have transport I am willing and able to go to these events.
“I want people to know that I am still a person. I grew up in a family of two brothers and five sisters. I was born at Vaughan’s and was delivered by my Nanny. For the first two years of my life I lived at Longwood, then when I was four we moved to Guinea Grass.
“My first school was in Hutt’s Gate, we were very poor in those days. We would walk to and from school with our friends. My father used to be in the Army here on St Helena, based at Ladder Hill. All families on St Helena were rationed and we had to live off the land. I left school at 15 years old and I did cleaning jobs to help Mum.
“I got married at the age of 18 and left St Helena to move to Ascension with my husband. He was earning four pounds and 10 shillings per month. I remained on Ascension for eight years before moving to the UK. We returned to St Helena in 1965 when we had saved enough money to be able to build our own home. I raised a family of two boys and two girls. I would say their lives were much better than that of when I was growing up.
“I still live in the family home that we built and feel happy with my life.”
PC Prudy Joshua spoke with George Henry who is aged 83 years (see photo attached).
“I was born at Thompson’s Hill and have two sisters and two brothers. I went to Half Tree Hollow School and then moved to Country School. I left at 16 for my first job working at a flax mill at Fairyland until it closed down. I then briefly worked at Poor Relief as a general worker. The pay at that time was around £17 per week. In 1954, I worked at Broad Bottom Flax Mill for seven months but I was also working in mental health at the time.
“I worked in mental health as an orderly, progressing to senior nurse then staff nurse. I was in this department for 37 years. I retired at the age of 60. During my time in mental health, I met Rosemond Alice Clifford who also worked as a nurse. We had our first daughter, Veronica, in 1962. We were married in November 1963 and had two more daughters. I now have eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren. I feel very happy with my life with such a wonderful family.
“I don’t feel old but I can’t get about as well as I used to. I don’t feel that the elderly on St Helena are treated with respect by the younger generation. They don’t speak, they just stare at you.
“I am well supported and cared for by my family, currently I live with my daughter Karen. I don’t go out much but I do feel supported by my community in general.
“But I would like more support from social services or just people coming to visit me. Or maybe just picking up the phone and making a call to see how I am.
“I wish I could continue doing my gardening, this would make a real difference to me. This would keep me occupied when I’m on my own and my daughters are working.
“But speaking for myself, I generally feel well treated and respected by those I do interact with in my community.”
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Noreen and George for allowing us to speak with them and for giving us a brief insight into their thoughts.
Both Noreen and George seem content but both express how they would like to see more people. With this in mind, maybe we could all take the time not just this week to pop by and say hello to someone who perhaps cannot get out as much as they used to.
I will leave you with that thought.
#StHelena #StopElderAbuse #WEAAD #RespectedAlways
DC Louise Scott
13 June 2017