Helping hand gets shopaholic, 90, out

Volunteer Karen Bentham takes 90-year-old Joan Jones shopping each week as part of Blackpool Community Transport's shopping assistance scheme.
Volunteer Karen Bentham takes 90-year-old Joan Jones shopping each week as part of Blackpool Community Transport's shopping assistance scheme.
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When Joan Jones was younger, she and her friends used to take spare shoes out shopping with them to ease aches after hours of bargain hunting.

But as age has crept up on her Mrs Jones, now 90, hasn’t been able to get out as much to see the sales and bag a bargain.

And up until last month she was housebound in her sheltered accommodation for four weeks as no-one could take her out in her wheelchair.

Now she has been given a new lease of life, thanks to volunteer Karen Bentham.

Through Blackpool Community Transport’s shopping assistance scheme Karen now takes Joan around Morrisons every week to do a ‘big shop’.

Joan, who lives in sheltered accommodation off Cherry Tree Road, Marton, said: “I’m very grateful for the service.

“It’s one of my pleasures, shopping. I’ll shop for anything, I just like to see if there’s anything new and try it to see if it’s beneficial to me.

“Without Karen, I wouldn’t be able to do any shopping.”

Karen is the first volunteer of her kind with Blackpool Community Transport but Joan hopes soon many more of her friends will be able to benefit from the help as more people give their time.

Karen, from St Annes, said: “I thought this was a chance to give something back to the community.

“Through the scheme, I can help Joan have choice and independence in her shopping.

“It’s a nice thing to do and we get on well, so it’s not just shopping, it’s a social thing too.”

Joan, and a host of friends from her sheltered accommodation and other areas of the resort, are collected, and later dropped off, by other volunteers on the Rideability bus every Thursday afternoon.

Through the scheme the group is afforded a two-hour shopping session at the supermarket, off Squires Gate Lane, South Shore.

Kate Bethell, from Blackpool Community Transport, said: “When I told Joan we’d got someone for her she was over the moon.

“She’d not been able to go on the trips because there was no-one to push her wheelchair. Karen gets her back out on trips.

“She was a bit of a shopaholic in her day but she’d not done her own shopping in four weeks and before that she’d relied on someone from Morrisons to push her round.

“If she’s got someone else pushing she feels like she can only get the things on her list, but she likes to see everything that’s out there.

“It’s immensely important people can get out, they can be so isolated so it’s not just their mental health it’s their wellbeing, too.”

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Aims of the shopping assistance scheme

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Blackpool Community Transport currently operates a regular six-day a week ‘ring and ride’ service for the elderly and disabled.

Part of this service incorporates supermarket trips.
The shopping assistance scheme is aimed at the client, to be assisted with selecting and choosing shopping, plus wheelchair and shopping trolley assistance - Karen pushes Joan in her wheelchair and, as Joan’s sight is failing, helps with selecting items.
The project aims to maintain a person’s independence and to provide practical help as well as company for the shopper, resulting in better wellbeing.

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