Irene, 81, gets fam­ily for Christ­mas

Daily Express - - Waging War On Loneliness - By Jess Grieve­son-Smith

MANY fam­i­lies wel­come a new pet for Christ­mas but a mother-of-four has “adopted” a grand­mother who has been on her own for 10 years.

Taylor-Danielle Pear­son, 27, de­cided her fam­ily would do some­thing dif­fer­ent for the fes­tive sea­son and help beat lone­li­ness among older peo­ple.

Af­ter vol­un­teer­ing to help el­derly peo­ple, Taylor-Danielle hit it off with widow Irene Smith, 81 – and has wel­comed her into their home as their “adopted nan” and one of the fam­ily.

The Pear­sons are hir­ing a vil­lage hall so Irene can in­vite more of her friends who might other­wise be alone, to join a fam­ily Christ­mas din­ner.

Friendly

Irene pops into the fam­ily’s Bris­tol home most days for a friendly cup of tea and a catch-up.

Taylor-Danielle and her hus­band Michael, 29, have taught chil­dren – Lexi, 11, Har­ley, seven, Si­enna, five and Amelia, three – Christ­mas is not just about presents, and now they have the gift of a new “grand­par­ent”.

She said: “Irene was miss­ing the fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment when we first met at my south Bris­tol vol­un­teer­ing group for the el­derly and I knew straight away that I wanted to adopt her into our fam­ily. I took her to ap­point­ments and we got chat­ting.

“She met the kids when I hosted a tea party and some­thing just clicked... she felt like one of the fam­ily.”

Taylor-Danielle stressed it was “so

im­por­tant” that el­derly peo­ple were not for­got­ten, adding: “Last year when she came around for Christ­mas din­ner, she cried. I used to be so close to my own nan and Irene is all alone most of the time. This year, I want to make it that ex­tra spe­cial for her.”

A de­lighted Irene said: “Last year was won­der­ful. The kids waited to open their presents with me. Now I’m

ac­tu­ally look­ing for­ward to Christ­mas. I feel like part of the fam­ily, with the kids be­ing so af­fec­tion­ate. This year we’re hav­ing a party with more of my friends com­ing – I’m very ex­cited.

“Christ­mas used to be such a lonely time for me and dif­fi­cult with­out my hus­band.”

Taylor-Danielle said: “We've been so for­tu­nate in the re­la­tion­ship we’ve

found with Irene and we want to ex­tend that to oth­ers. ”

A spokesper­son for the Cam­paign to End Lone­li­ness said: “It’s re­ally, re­ally pos­i­tive to see a fam­ily ac­tu­ally tak­ing ac­tion, bring­ing some­one in and giv­ing them that time.

“What peo­ple need to un­der­stand is that if you’re some­one who has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing lone­li­ness, the small­est

ges­ture can make a dif­fer­ence. We would call upon ev­ery­one in the coun­try to do some­thing for an older per­son this year.

“Pick up the phone, call your older rel­a­tives – ten min­utes is all that it takes.”

Age UK’s Caroline Abra­hams said: “There is some­thing we can all do to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to the older peo­ple around us.

“Hav­ing a friendly chat with an older per­son on the bus or in a shop, or of­fer­ing to help an el­derly neigh­bour with their shop­ping if the weather is bad, can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very lit­tle cost to our­selves.”

Janet Mor­ri­son of In­de­pen­dent Age said: “It’s lovely to hear about peo­ple go­ing that ex­tra mile to make Christ­mas spe­cial for older peo­ple.”

Pic­tures: CATERS

Irene with Pear­son chil­dren Si­enna, Har­ley, Amelia and Lexi. Far left, the fam­ily cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas

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