I tried to find a Christmas story this week but struggled. Change the ending didn't ask for seasonal stories so i tried to get something that chimed with the weather but even the wintery /ice theme doesn't quite work with the mild temperatures we've been having (although it might just scrape through on the basis that it includes "Strictly"?!)
So here's Bob CHarnley's warm human story that shows how local government cares in a very practical sense for vulnerable older people in our communities. It's an important reminder that small interventions matter and can have a significant impact.
Merry Xmas to KnowledgeHub members and thanks for reading, Dawn
Ice on the Inside of the Window at No. 83 by Bob Charnley Sandwell MBC
Iris’ breath hung in the cold damp air and she shuddered at the thought of getting out of bed. What would Alf think of her now? Her savings all gone.
Her beloved husband, dead for ten long years. She could hear his stern but reassuring voice as she piled clothing and blankets upon her once youthful body. On his deathbed, Alf took solace in the fact that she would remain in their home and live out her life contentedly.
She remembered the first letter like it was yesterday. It said she had won £3000. All she had to do to claim it was send off £30. The odd letter turned into a drip and then a deluge. The winnings never came. Only yesterday, she had been to the Post Office and sent off another £15.
The letters looked so official, the people she spoke with on the phone so nice and friendly. She just could not comprehend. She belonged in another age. You left your doors and windows open. People cared.
The doorbell pierced the quiet. She rose from the relative warmth of the bed and struggled down the stairs.
The shadow at the door looked youthful, full of hope and energy. Iris unlocked the door carefully, making sure the chain remained on.
“Yes, who is it?”
“Trading Standards, Iris. From the Council. Let me show you my ID.”
She took the card. Checked it and handed it back.
“What do you want?”
“We’ve been doing some work with the Post Offices round here. Mr Khan is worried you’re sending off so much money.”
“Iris, can we help? You can talk to us.” “No, thank you.”
“We can help with those letters.”
Again she thought of Alf, the warm house they shared, the food she used to prepare for him, watching Strictly Come Dancing together on TV. Deep within her soul hope stirred. She would do it for Alf.
“Come on in dear. It’s a long story.”
Bob Charnley is Trading Standards and Licensing Manager at Sandwell MBC with over 30years experience working in local government Trading Standards services. His specialist area of Trading Standards Law is Food Hygiene and he is a visiting lecturer at Birmingham University