One of the things I miss most about being shut inside is the children. Before the coronavirus epidemic I only went out with someone to help me, because of my ill health. I didn’t leave my home much, but I could go out. Every week I had an outing to the local disabled day centre. I loved it there. It was a wonderful time in my week. A lifeline for me.

What I especially loved was when the children from the local nursery school would come to sing to us. Sometimes we would go over to their nursery school and plant vegetables with them.

It was all part of getting little children to integrate with our generation. It was so wonderful. It brought us back to a different time in our lives. I enjoyed seeing them and the little things they can do. I loved the way they asked lots of questions.

I loved it there. It was a wonderful time in my week. A lifeline for me.

They made me remember how when we were small we weren’t allowed to ask questions. I grew up in West Africa and back then when we had visitors we all had to leave the room – we weren’t supposed to sit where other people were talking. We had to do as we were told. Now things are so different. Children keep asking us ‘why?’ and I think it’s good; it’s refreshing.

I have walking sticks and they say to me, ‘why are you like that?’ and ‘why can’t you walk?’ and ‘why are you so old?’ They really make me laugh. Only a child would ask that. I said to the girl who asked me about being old, ‘once I was as young as you – and one day you’re going to be as old as me. Bit by bit you’re going to get old,’ and then she laughed. Children are so funny.

One little boy said to me, ‘I like you,’ so I joked with him and said, ‘would you like to marry me?’ and he said, ‘no, because you’re old.’ They say what they want to say. I love listening to them.

We had students who came in as volunteers too, and that’s lovely as well. Just like being with the small children, being with a different generation takes you back to a different time in your life. It makes me remember when I was a student nurse, helping people then.

Just like being with the small children, being with a different generation takes you back to a different time in your life.

Going to the centre was a huge part of my week. They cooked us meals and took us to outings. Everything we did, we did together as a group. We all got on so well and that’s what made it so special. I miss it very much. All my lovely friends. I don’t know what it will be like if we can ever go back. We’ll be told to keep a distance from our friends and we used to be all together. That was what was so special about it. It’s not a big enough space for us all to spread us out so I don’t know how they will ever organise it again. It's a real worry for me.

In our society older people aren’t acknowledged much. We are castaways, that’s how I see it. Now with coronavirus it’s turned into proper isolation. I have no hugs. I can’t see my visitor from Independent Age, though she calls me on the phone.

This week my son took me out for a walk round the block. I walked in front of him and he was behind me. First of all I said, ‘I’m not going.’ I was frightened to go out as I hadn’t been out for so long. Then I plucked up the courage. My legs were a bit shaky at the end but it was good to go out, with each step I took I felt a bit better.

I think about the centre a great deal. When I was there I would meet people as lonely as me and talk and eat with them. Everyone there is so lovely. The manager has sent me some wordsearches in the post because she remembers I like them, but I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to show the children what happened with the vegetables we planted. I’d love them to see those carrots and beans. I count the days until it will all be over. What keeps me going is my faith and the people God allows to be in my life, people who care. I thank God for Independent Age.

'Marie' wanted to remain anonymous.

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