Latest stories from Pilgrim’s Friend Society
Latest stories from Pilgrim’s Friend Society
This is a true story but the writer wants to stay anonymous, because he says that everyone in his church’s Tuesday cafe team deserve praise, not just him. I heard of him when a correspondent told me about the amazing older man who had transformed the cafe, taking it to a whole new level with his cooking. (Paul is not really an ‘older man’, he’s in his early sixties! However, my correspondent is barely thirty, so that says a lot about how we see age!)
Paul’s story is uplifting, but it also has a clear message to people who are approaching retirement. Paul says, ‘Being made in the image of God then we too have not been designed for a prolonged period of rest.’ God has a purpose for each one of us at each stage of our lives. And in true Ephesians 2:10 style, God led Paul to his next ‘good work’. Here’s his story:
‘So I’ve got cancer. Thanks God. If I survive this then I’m taking early retirement.
Five years later and, at the age of 58, I have a meeting with my manager in twenty minutes with a letter of resignation in my pocket. Absolute panic – I can’t go through with it.
Two years further on and I’m sitting in the garden with a glass of wine. I went through with it – but a large part of me wishes I hadn’t. Gardening used to be fun but now I realise that it was just a distraction from work and is actually rather boring. I longed to read more, but am still unsure as to what I want to read. My daughter tells me that it’s OK to potter around after an illustrious career. So this is how it ends. Might as well have another glass of wine.
I had thought of doing something for the Church but all they wanted was someone to work with the youth (not my forte) or be in a prayer group (more sitting around but without the wine). I pondered briefly whether any of the skills from my chosen career could be transferred for use in the Church – but there doesn’t seem much call for a retired doctor in sexually transmitted diseases.
Wait a minute. They’re asking for volunteers in the Tuesday Café. I didn’t even know the Church had a café. I suppose I could serve tea and cakes. A pleasant distraction, I suppose, from sitting in the garden drinking wine.
Oh dear – the Tuesday Cafe is not what I expected. Hard working volunteers remembering the good old days when the menu was more varied than pie and veg and loyal regular customers who arrive to support the Café rather than have their taste buds excited. Oh well, I’ve still got the garden and I think I’ve got another bottle of wine somewhere. Oh no stop it . . .I know that your career was about problem solving but this isn’t your problem . . .Why won’t you go to sleep instead of thinking about the Café . . .What are you doing awake so early: you’re thinking about the Café again aren’t you . . .I know you like cooking but you’ve never cooked for anyone but the family . . .You could severely embarrass yourself here . . .
Three months later and I’m sitting in the garden drinking another cup of coffee. Monday is shopping and prep; Tuesday is prep and cook. Two specials each Tuesday Café which, I have been told, could grace any bistro menu. People tell me that the Church is buzzing about the quality of the food. Personally my response is that I think that there are an awful lot of people in my Church who should get out more as this is only the sort of food that I would cook at home; but I’m a man and I’ll accept any compliment I can get.
Amongst us volunteers in the Café we have a good laugh every Tuesday and there is a growing optimism that we are providing a good quality service which is ministering to the local community; as it was in the old days.
So as I sit here in the garden drinking coffee what have I understood? That God rested on the seventh day after creation and has been working constantly ever since. Being made in the image of God then we too have not been designed for a prolonged period of rest. In retirement I thought that I knew what I wanted but God knew what I needed and through that His name glorified.
But who is that older person looking back at me in the mirror? It can’t be me. I don’t feel like that anymore.
Some months back I wrote about the three men who came into the store where I was waiting for my new phone contract to print out. They were clearly granddad, son, and grandson, and they told the assistant that they were looking for a tablet for granddad so he could use ‘Hang-Out’ to keep in touch with his friends and relatives overseas. It was hard to tell who liked the technology the most – they picked up different tablets and tested their merits and granddad was keen to get started. I’m sure that, by now, granddad is as expert as his son and grandson.
The number of over 75s using social media has nearly doubled in the last year, Ofcom has found, with a ‘striking’ rise in the number of older people using tablet computers and signing up to sites such as Facebook. It’s a great way to for older people to keep in touch, and helps alleviate loneliness. But the new generation of users are not as ‘savvy’ as the younger, and are more at risk from online scams.
‘The scamming is a real issue – my parents have been nearly deceived,’ said a correspondent, ‘It’s not just out and out scammers but also pressured selling. My parents bought a solar panel after a hard sell and it’s been a nightmare.’
Someone I know, a sensible, intelligent lady in her early 70s, admitted that she’d been scammed. She’d developed an online friendship with a man who turned out not to be all that he’d claimed, and just in time – before sending him money, she realised what was going on.
So how can we help our ‘silver surfers’? The granddad I mentioned earlier would have the easy, natural protection that comes from having family around – but what about those whose families have moved away?
Involve the young tech-wizards
At a church I visited in the north they had an informal kind of ‘club’, where the young members, (who seem to have been born with inbuilt operating systems) helped the seniors with their Smartphones and tablets. The young loved showing them how to do it and the older ones loved watching them, some catching their enthusiasm at the same time. Is it something that most churches could do?
Could pastors mention the danger of the latest scam, perhaps on a Sunday morning? And, at the same time, email house group leaders?
A special Silver Surfers Safety Meeting
Or how about a church advertising a ‘Silver Surfers’ Safety’ meeting, inviting older people from the community? Led by a couple of technically minded members?
There’s a good deal of information that would help. It would have to be updated from time to time, to meet new challenges. Scams tend to stream through the internet in spurts. Some are obvious, like the gentleman from Nigeria who offered to change my life with a substantial amount of money if I would simply email him my bank account details. But some are more subtle and consistent. If I see an interesting gadget on a website that is new to me, for instance, rather than risk my outlay on a ‘stranger’ I’ll see if it’s available at a local outlet, or on Amazon. Seniors could be shown how to do this.
It’s a challenge that’s also an opportunity!
When I watched the news about the terrorist attack on London Bridge I was shocked to see part of the footage covered the street I walk down from London Bridge Underground station to Tower Bridge Road to reach our head office. Suddenly it wasn’t something happening to people somewhere else: I, or any of my colleagues could have been caught up in it. When it becomes personal, like that, your prayers have an added impetus; an extra edge.
Thankfully, none of us was affected, but we’re praying for the people who have been, whose lives and whose families’ lives have been changed forever. We’re looking at an extract from Psalm 10, which reads: ‘
“ In his arrogance, the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. Call the evildoer to account for his wickedness. The Lord is King for ever and ever”
We’re asking our supporters and all those who know us to join us in prayer on June 16th – our special prayer day. Each year we set a day aside to concentrate in prayer on our work – and to thank God for His kindness and all that He’s done, and to praise Him for all that He is. Supporters and directors meet at our homes together with residents and staff. One year, sitting next to a resident, I was blessed by the way she thanked God for so many things, but especially for the kindness that residents in the home show to one another.
This year, one of of our residents asked us to pray for “God’s over- ruling in history of our nation to His glory and honour” – a very relevant prayer post-election! Five other Christian charities have used our prayer pack this year – Praise God!!
Do click on our website and read about our prayer Day, and the charities’ ‘Great Get Together To Pray Together’. The link is https://www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/pray-with-us. This campaign refers to the Loneliness Awareness week last month.
And we’d like to share some things for rejoicing, too! We’re thankful for good Inspection reports for our homes, and for the Bethany Home that has won a Dementia Quality Mark from the Local Authority. The dementia portfolio was so good that it’s going to be used as an example to others’. More about the contents of the portfolio to follow!
Do pray, too, that the vacant rooms that some of our homes’ have will be filled. Many older people are needing residential care but Councils just don’t have the money to be able to fund them.
Finally, pray for our trustees and directors, our chief executive Stephen Hammersley, our managers and our staff. Our staff go so many extra miles that if I were able to join them up they’d go to the moon and back. We see our work as a ministry, not just a job. Please ask God to continue to give us wisdom, energy, good humour and fellowship, and fsatisfaction in Him.
A friend and I were talking about our house-groups, those meetings when church members get together in smaller numbers. In a large church home groups are a way of getting to know people better. My friend and her husband are the oldest members of their house group.
The topic in her last group meeting had been about relationships, especially strains between married couples. She told how she and her husband described some of the difficulties they’d experienced in their long marriage, and how they’d managed to work them out.
She said, ‘We were surprised when the young people thanked us for sharing these things with them. They said it had been really helpful, and that they’d been blessed.’
There’s a lovely article on the internet written by a young man, about how the younger need the older. They need their reassurance as well as their guidance. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/older-men-younger-men-need-you
The Scriptures in Titus and Timothy are about older men and older women helping the younger. It makes sense, because seniors have life experiences to draw from. And I wondered how this passing on of life wisdom works in our churches today, when it’s mostly pastors or other church leaders that are ‘flagged’ as the ones to take one’s problems to.
How does this work in your church?
At 106, former suffragette Amy Hawkins was not going to let anything stop her voting in the recent selection. She can just about walk and her family accompanied her to the local polling station, in Monmouth. But then they were shocked to find that she was banned from voting.
She and her granddaughters were told that her name was not on the electoral register, although grand-daughter, Hannah Freeman, said categorically that she saw her name on the electoral role at the beginning of the year.
Her granddaughters were furious. She could not vote because she had not been verified. Tamzin Powell said she understood that there had been some special verification measure brought in after the Brexit vote ‘which means that you need to have links to an ID card or Ntional Insurance, but she is 106.’
Appalled people commented on her family’s posts slamming what happened to the determined voter. One person said: “Absolutely disgraceful, this lady has most definitely earned her right to vote. Shameful.” Another said: “Appalling. Denied her democratic rights because of bureaucratic incompetence. Shame on them.”
What a shame that someone who fought for the vote wasn’t able to exercise it, because of the ‘system’. Especially as this may be the last chance she will have to vote. After all, there aren’t all that many 106 year olds, especially those who’ll make a huge effort like she did! Surely someone could have made a phone call and verbally verified that it was her?
After tomorrow, when you’re feeling exhausted by the elections and have cast your vote, you may decide to pick yourself up with a little retail therapy. And if you do, it can be good for you and good for us, too! (Which translates into good for the older people we support!)
When you purchase anything online, from kitchens to clothing to books and basics like groceries, go through the Easyfundraising website and choose Pilgrim Homes as the charity of your choice. Then from there go to the retailer of your choice – they’re all there. Then, whichever one you choose, we receive a portion of the purchase price. It doesn’t cost you a single penny! It such an easy way to raise funds for our work.
And keep your eye open for special promotions! Recently we received a cheque for £50 from stationery supplier Viking Direct! The invitation was to enter your charity into the firm’s promotional draw. Someone did this and a couple of weeks’ later we heard than our name had been drawn. Not only that, but we were asked to give information about Pilgrim Homes that could be used on Viking’s website.
It’s feel good retail therapy that helps you and helps us. It won’t cost you a single penny. Here’s how you do it – it’s so easy.
You can even let the website set a reminder on your internet access. So when you go on to your retailer, the reminder will pop up. Click on the icon and Easy fundraising will do the rest.
If a million people gathered anywhere for a purpose, it would be a story worth reporting. And if those people had been called together to pray for their country – by a 70 year old evangelist, it’s even more of a story. But you won’t find it in the secular press. It’s in our next Pilgrims’ Magazine, but is so good I thought it’s worth blogging now. It was sent to me by Deryn van der Tang, manager of our housing in Bedford. Angus Buchan, a seventy year old South African evangelist made history when he called for a prayer meeting of over a million people on 22nd April 2017.
He said, “We are tired of people taking the law into their own hands. We are going to call upon the Lord to bring justice, peace and hope to our beloved South Africa. He [God] says: ‘if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…’
Over one million people gathered at a farm outside of Bloemfontein to pray for this. People of every race, from all over South Africa, bussed, drove, flew or made their way to the Alwyn Farm to pray at the two-thousand-acre field. It was an emotional time for those present as they knelt in the dirt, held hands and prayed. Angus called on the people to put their own houses in order and to confess their sins before God. The Spirit of the Lord moved amongst them as God visited His people. This was an orderly meeting with not one scrap of litter left on the field when everyone had gone home.
Deryn reported that the results were soon manifested in the Government. ‘Already the Bible has been read in Parliament, there are changes in Government policy and rain has fallen in the drought stricken Cape!’
Running concurrently with this is the IFSA (Intercessors for South Africa) ‘Bless the Nation 50 Days of Prayer’. South Africa is in earnest about change in their society and it is encouraging that Government leaders such as the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, as well as seasoned evangelists, are calling the nation to pray for restoration, to restore the years the locust has eaten.nnin
Youtube links are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dPUpiz6A24
Wouldn’t it be good if a million people gathered to pray for the UK right now? And if our Chief Justice made the same call, to pray for restoration? Christians are instructed to pray for those in Government (1 Timothy 2: 2,3.) Whether we gather or not, we can pray. Let’s do it!
Going through the items for the Pilgrims’ Magazine I’m working on, I came across this lovely story, but can’t trace the person who sent it to me! Hopefully, someone will read it and let me know.
Links with the Homeland
It occurs to me with surprise that it was over fifty years ago that a friend from University who was a visitor at the Camberwell Aged Pilgrims’ Home asked me to visit a lady in the Hornsey Rise Home, explaining that she was blind and received very few visitors. After walking past this mysterious place so very many times over the years without ever seeing anyone enter or emerge, I felt quite excited at the prospect of entering those mysterious gates and discovering what lay beyond.
Miss Ada Knight was a sweet lady whose beautiful eyes gave no hint of her affliction. She told me that one morning she had awakened to find that she had suddenly gone blind overnight. It was typical of her that she had not felt any self-pity, but instead her first thought was about what would happen to her budgerigar and how she would cope with looking after him. She would hover near his cage addressing him as “pretty boy” and enjoying the sound of his chirping back at her.
She may not have had many visitors from outside, but there were many kind people in the Home who were eager to help with errands and with reading to her. It was from her, I recall, that I discovered that our local milkman had come to know the Lord!
Miss Knight had spent many years as a lady’s maid and the lady she loved to tell me about was none other than Lady Lister, the wife of the legendary Lord Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. She always referred to her as “my lady” and spoke of her with warmth and affection. It is over a century since Lord Lister died and I find it amazing, looking back, that I can feel connected to him through that one human link! Miss Knight was very firm about social boundaries and I could never prevail upon her to call me by my Christian name!
I could only call in on Miss Knight during the vacations and I think that it was while I was away that her great friend Miss Violet Lane, wrote to tell me that she had died, urging me warmly to continue to call in at the Home to see her. Thus I continued to be a visitor and I enjoyed the company of Miss Lane, a vigorous lady who made little of the hardships she had faced in life. She had been one of ten children and when the parents died, they were split up and sent in different directions. Her eldest sister had made an effort to maintain contact, but it had all proved too much for her and eventually Miss Lane found herself without any idea of where her various siblings were or, indeed, if they were still alive.
She had made the best of such opportunities as presented themselves and had passed quite a stiff clerical exam to enter the Post Office. In those days it was seen as a prestigious job and attracted fierce competition. She had, to my fascination, been posted to Aberystwyth, where I was studying. She had treasured some postcards of the damage done to the Promenade by some very dramatic tidal waves, which she gave me as a present. A couple of years ago history repeated itself with a fierce storm and there was a similar scene of devastation along the sea front.
While inmates of the Home were able to cope and look after themselves, they continued to live in their cosy little rooms, but the time came when Miss Lane was too ill and frail to care for herself. I visited her in the dormitory of the sanatorium where she now resided, all her worldly goods consigned to a small locker beside her. Her voice had sunk to a hoarse whisper, but her face was radiant and put me in mind of the glowing face of Stephen as described in the Book of Acts. I bent down to hear what she was saying. “Do you know our Saviour as I do?” she asked urgently.
I often remember that last visit as I myself move nearer to Heaven and look forward to seeing those two inspiring ladies again.
The skills shortage in the workplace is growing fast. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said recently that there is already a shortage of applicants for over 60 different roles, ranging from cleaner to accountant. And that after Brexit, they expect the gap to grow even wider.
Over the next five years around 1.5 million jobs will be created in the UK, but there will only be seven million young people entering the workforce. ‘Even if we could get every young person a job there will still be a skills gap,’ said Anna Dixon, CE of Ageing Better.
So employers will have to tap into the talent of older workers, according to Andy Briggs, head of giant insurance company, Aviva UK. (Mr Briggs is also the Government’s business champion for older workers.)
A major obstance in the way is age bias and ageist attitudes amongst employers, he added. Myths and misconceptions abound, such as thinking that older people are less resilient, and take more sick days. On this issue, he’s clear that ‘It’s the younger ones who are going out and getting ‘absolutely hammered’, while also being less loyal then older workers. Other reports show that older workers feel less valued than younger employees, and even when they have more qualifications and experience and are less likely to be offered training courses or considered for promotion.
Dr Nick Dydaskis (Social Scientist, Anglia University), says that the evidence doesn’t support the stereotype that older workers are less innovative or less emotionally resilient, adding that there are studies proving performance improves with age. (Dr Dydaskis’ work has informed policies in major international organisations such as UNESCO, and the OECD.)
DIY retailer, B & Q has a has operated without a default retirement age for over 15 years, and says that an age-diverse workforce brings a wealth of skills and experience. B & Q’s CE, Ian Cheshire, has said that ‘older workers have a great rapport with the customers, as well as a conscientious attitude and real enthusiasm for the job.” In addition, many studies show that older people have better emotional resilience than younger, have better judgement in crises, are more contented with life and work, and are more supportive of others in the team.
Last year, Barclays Bank and coach operator National Express recently announced apprenticeship schemes aimed at older workers, putting them in the forefront of corporate initiatives to widen the age diversity of workforces.
Examples of older people working until a good age abound. When researching for my new book, Whats Age Got To Do With It, (published September), I found so many I had to stop because I didn’t have room for them all. An example is 105 year old Dr Bill Frankland, known as the ‘Grandfather of Allergy’, which is his specialism. he discovered the link between the immune response and a malfunctioning immune system. He also helped thousands every year by convincing the media to show pollen counts in weather forecasts.science. Then there is 102 year old Douglas Higgens, who wrote a book at the age of 100 to persuade people to come to Christ. And the carer aged 89, who had no intention of giving up her job because she loves it. I could go on! As well as living longer many people are living better, too, as the gap between life span and health span continues to narrow.
But, despite the evidence, ageism continues to be the ‘invisible gorilla’ in our view of older people. particularly employers. The ‘invisible gorilla’ is a test demonstrating how we can overlook an important factor when concentrating on trivia. See it here: http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html
Will having to attract seniors instead of youngsters mean employers will have to change their attitudes? And what about seniors, themselves? Will they want to continue working? Why does anyone work anyway? Research shows that It’s more than just the money; it’s about meaning and significance, and having a social life and friends.
It will be interesting to see what changes the next few years will bring. Defeating ageism in the work place will be the beginning of big change in our society.
“Kin-tsu-kur-oi, the Japanese art of repairing broken or damaged pottery with costly materials of gold, silver or platinum; so creating beauty and adding worth, can relate also to those with damaged or broken lives. For me, I know God’s love and grace poured into my life has greatly enriched it and Good Friday is a suitable day to remember the cost .
“It is also a wonderful picture of how love and care poured into broken or damaged lives, whether from dementia or any other cause, makes them of greater worth, makes them more beautiful. It can also be costly for those who do this and we are again grateful.”
This was the Good Friday entry on the Face Book page of Jennifer Bute, a doctor who resigned her GP practice when diagnosed with dementia. Jennifer sees the condition as a ‘glorious opportunity’ to encourage others who are on the dementia journey by sharing personal, and professional insights. She also helps with practical, educational tools and advice, on her website www.gloriousopportunity.org. She shares spiritual insights within a Christian framework.
Jennifer is the keynote speaker at the conference in Lymington this coming Saturday, April 22nd.
There is still time to book! Go to www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/Pages/Events/Category/conferences-and-seminars
Christian providers of respite, residential, nursing and dementia care. Also retirement apartments for assisted living and for extra care housing, and fully equipped houses for missionaries' home leave.
We share our experience and knowledge at seminars and conferences, at national and regional level.