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Norman lived a lonely life before coming to Parkfield Court, a sheltered accommodation in Seacroft, Leeds. He had no family, few friends and he suffered from anxiety, which caused him to be nervous around other people and severely affected his ability to interact with others.

Over the past year the 71-year-old has been given a new lease of life thanks to the help-at-hand service, which is provided through Yorkshire Housing’s independent living service.

Norman, who has been a Yorkshire Housing resident for seven years, was referred to the service by Parkfield Court ILO manager Jane Lawson, who thought it was a good idea for Norman to meet and spend some time with Julie Knapton, the local help-at-hand representative, to give him an extra bit of help.

Julie spoke about her journey with Norman and how the service affected his life, making a real difference.

“I first met Norman in October 2017 on my second day as a help at hand independent living officer. Initially Norman was extremely nervous. As a resident of the sheltered accommodation, he didn’t interact with other people at all and suffered from poor nutrition due to being too nervous to go out shopping by himself.”

Julie began to work with Norman to coax him into more sociable situations. She said: “I have supported Norman with shopping for nutritious, easy-to-make meals to make scrambled eggs on toast and jacket potatoes – small things to anybody else but a huge learning curve for Norman.”

Norman’s flat was very sparse at first but now it looks homely as the pair have been out shopping for small items of furniture. Jane said:

“We even found a guitar in a charity shop which Norman loves. He is now able to manage his life; finances, food, medication and doctor appointments much better. However, I think one of the best things to come out of this is Norman is now enjoying his life. He is very cheerful, his confidence has improved and he has now started to interact with other residents.”

The pair spent the day in Scarborough recently to celebrate Norman’s 71st birthday.

“The service has made such a difference to him. He is just happier. I feel our help at hand service has given Norman a new lease of life.”

The help at hand service is a paid service for people who need a bit of extra help or who are at risk of isolation. It can also be used by people checking that elderly parents are ok. “It is a massive thing and peace of mind for family members,” says Julie.

If you know of anyone who would benefit from the help-at-hand service or would like more information, visit the dedicated page here​.