‘A Fire in my Belly!’ 

Lockdown and the feeling of not being able to access community

“My Lockdown story is not like many others. At the start of the pandemic, I was hospitalised with sudden severe ill health which left me unable to walk properly afterwards. I came home from hospital demoralised and scared, lacking confidence to face the outside world. To make matters worse, everyone else was keeping to themselves too. I shut myself away, resigned to a future of staring at the same four walls. From having had an active life with family, friends, work and community involvement, this was just a shock!

I felt as if the neighbours would be talking about me and judging me – suddenly I felt like an older person and I had only just turned 50! Although I organised the lease of a mobility scooter and my landlord sorted a ramp for me, I just didn’t feel brave enough to face the outside world.

Borders Buddies: supporting each other through the barriers

It was only when I heard about Borders Buddies that things started to change a bit for me. Thanks to the support they gave me, I was able to take small baby steps, gradually getting out further on the mobility scooter. What I’ve discovered is that you don’t appreciate how hard it is to get out this way until you are forced to. There are so many obstacles to overcome – things like pavement clutter, potholes, parked cars and lack of dropped kerbs. A couple of times I felt like crying because things seemed impossible for me. It was also very painful using my hands and my back wasn’t used to sitting upright for long periods. After each outing my legs would feel like jelly!

Community access action

But every time I went out I felt more determined to overcome the odds! My feelings of helplessness gradually turned to feelings of empowerment. If it was difficult for me, it was difficult for other people too – and that wasn’t good enough! So I’ve been in touch with the local Access Panel, the Community Council and others to try to fix it. These things can take a long time but I’m feeding into a council map of dropped kerbs and raising awareness of where they are lacking. When I go out and about I speak to other people with mobility issues and we share our stories.

Finding new ways to thrive

Having failed to reach one supermarket, the following week I managed to get to the other one – it was even further away but more accessible. What a triumph to find myself browsing the aisles after over a year of not being in a shop! My ‘buddy’ hadn’t been shopping much either so we supported one another. The staff and other customers were very friendly and supportive too.

Of course I still have good days and bad days but with Borders Buddies I’ve found the voice I thought I’d lost. Everyone counts; nobody should feel alone.”

Story by ‘A’, one of the wonderful members of our Borders Buddies community.

Learn more about Borders Buddies here.

Take a look at the new Borders Buddies resources for getting out, connecting, and living well in your community.

With thanks to the Scottish Borders Council’s Tweeddale Community Fund for making this work possible.

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