A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service worker has spoken of the plight of an elderly woman forced to live in her kitchen to stay warm – as she underlines the need to look out for the vulnerable this Christmas.
Louise Dalton is member of the Service’s dedicated Community Action Team, tasked with providing free Home Fire Safety Visits and advice to some of Scotland’s most vulnerable and isolated people.
And she is urging communities to get in contact if they know of a relative, friend or neighbour who may be in need of assistance. Louise said: “I don’t think people truly understand the effect of social isolation.
“I will never, ever forget an elderly woman who was living near Glasgow city centre; she had limited mobility and had moved everything into her kitchen.
“Her bed was in there; she spent all day sitting on a wooden dining chair and had a small electric heater because her gas had been shut off. She had a small portable stove that she made dinner on and at night she crawled over the table to get into her bed.
“She had no one: no friends or family, no one to make sure she was eating, bathing, or staying warm.
“It was a horrible situation for anyone to be living in, but there were also massive fire risks there and we supported her to start getting the help she needed from ourselves and our partners.”
During Lockdown, Louise has been working from home as part of a multi-agency helpline team which includes staff from SFRS and Glasgow City Council.
They have made more than 11,000 calls to vulnerable people across Glasgow to help ensure they continue to get the support they need, including vital medical prescriptions.
She has also been part of a nationwide partnership between SFRS and the SPFL Trust, delivering thousands of Christmas hampers to isolated and vulnerable people under the Festive Friends campaign launched by the trust earlier this month.
Louise believes communities can also play their part by calling 0800 0731 999 to signpost the SFRS to any other vulnerable people, on their behalf and with their permission, who may be vulnerable to fire or other risks – anywhere in Scotland.
She said: “Social isolation, fuel poverty, mental health issues can all affect anyone of any age and background so it’s been great that we’ve been able to keep working together but we still can’t reach everyone.
“That’s why we’re asking people to help us – help us make sure no-one is alone this Christmas and that they get the long-term support that they need to stay safe.”
For more information please visit: www.firescotland.gov.uk