Special feature: Lonely Cynthia found help in local social classes

Cynthia with her cat Bonnie. In the background: a picture of the Rex cinema, Elland
Cynthia with her cat Bonnie. In the background: a picture of the Rex cinema, Elland

Eighty-five year-old Cynthia Jacobs felt lonely and depressed two-years-ago. She went to her doctors, expecting to be routinely prescribed a course of anti-depressants.

Fortunately for Cynthia, who lives independently in Siddal, her doctor took a “more than medicine” approach and instead put her in touch with local older people’s classes. Cynthia now attends Halifax’s Maurice Jagger Centre and Elland’s Willow Court where she socialises with others and takes part in activities. When I visited Cynthia, she’d not long returned from a trip up town to collect her prescribed reading glasses and she filled me in on how she’d seen a man fall in town and the fact it took more than 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, over a cup of tea.

“I was really depressed; everything got on top of me - as life does. There’s nothing worse than loneliness - especially at night time.

“But, you have to get on with it and find out what’s out there; that’s what you get your pension for - to go out and spend it not hide it under your bed. Some pensioners moan that there’s nothing for them to do - there’s stuff going on out there; people just need to be better informed.

“I look forward to going to the centres - we have a good laugh and it’s important to mix with people who are a similar age. I take inspiration from others - there’s people in their 90s attending my classes.”

The mother-of-five and grandmother to 23 who walks with a stick said she was determined not to deteriorate after seeing her mother suffer with dementia in a nursing home and since joining various groups she now enjoys painting at home as well as the day centre she attends.

“The TV is still a big source of comfort but I’m not lonely now. I look forward to meeting with others at the centres and, most importantly, I’ve got Bonnie to keep me company.”

Cynthia bought Bonnie the cat, pictured, two-years-ago over the internet with the help of her son and says she is her biggest source of comfort.