Older people face hardship amid coronavirus pandemic, Islington charity worker warns

Kimberley Bottomley. Picture: Tom Neumark

Kimberley Bottomley. Picture: Tom Neumark - Credit: Archant

An Islington charity worker, who was awarded an MBE by the Queen, has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is leaving older people “frustrated, anxious and scared”.

Kimberley Bottomley has been working for the Peel Institute for the past 20 years and is currently its older people’s activities coordinator.

She is responsible for organising activities for over-55s, including exercise classes, aromatherapy, wellbeing sessions and karaoke – as well as external activities like museum tours, daytrips and sit-down dinners.

Kimberley said the lockdowns during 2020 have especially impacted the people she supports.

“The overall impression I get from my members is that they are frustrated, anxious and scared. They face increased isolation as they are forced to live indoors. Many elderly people rely on routine to help them through their lives and their routine has been completely destroyed,” she said.

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Although she has been helping adults with regular Zoom calls and shopping trips, Kimberley says it does not make up for the hardships faced.

“They are not able to attend funerals, they really miss their family and friends, social interaction, hugs and kisses.”

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Kimberley, who is from Warlingham in Surrey, was among those who received an MBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last month for her services to the Clerkenwell community.

READ MORE: Queen’s Birthday Honours: Islington healthcare staff receive gongs for Covid-19 response

She first started helping Peel in 2000 on a placement, covering a member of staff on maternity leave.

However, she explained: “They [then] made me an offer of a permanent job which I jumped at...for the first time in my life, I thought I was making a difference, a positive contribution to the community.”

She was in “disbelief” and “thought it was a scam” when a letter bringing the news of her MBE arrived.

“When I realised it might be genuine, I started panicking,” Kimberley said. “I then told my family, still in disbelief, not knowing what I had done to deserve such an accolade.”

She added: “I was really overwhelmed. Someone had thought so highly of my work to go to the trouble of nominating me. I knew my members appreciated what I did but this was on another level.”

Arrangements are being made for Kimberley to attend an evening at Loseley House to receive her MBE.

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