Maggie, 73, is living alone and self-isolating. She has lots to say about loneliness and social connections at the current time, as well as about the difficulties faced by many in terms of accessing food and resources. Maggie spoke to Independent Age as part of our #HomeTruths series about her difficulties getting food, and how others have stepped in to help with this.



I'm not a priority: trying to order food

I am living alone and self-isolating, and while I speak to my daughter and niece every week, I do not have family nearby. This has meant that while I am lucky to have good social contact over the phone, daily tasks like getting food has been more challenging.

I've not had much joy in getting food delivered on my own – I have never done online shopping as I have my mobility scooter to get to the shops and get what I need, but obviously I can’t do this now. I have a loyalty card with my local supermarket chain and I tried to get online deliveries arranged but I was struggling to organise priority deliveries.

I could not get through to customer service to organise priority delivery – I still have not been successful, and have now basically given up. I am 74 in a few weeks and it isn’t as easy for me to get about, but because I don’t fall into the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category, there is no support in place from supermarkets for me to get my food delivered.

While the government has put in place measures to provide food and medicine for those who are extremely vulnerable, for example people with certain cancers or severe asthma, what about vulnerable people who do not meet these medical criteria? I know that I am not the only person impacted by this. I am classed as a vulnerable person, but not vulnerable enough for someone to get in touch and say I need priority. I would like to get online ordering sorted as I am an independent person, I like to do things for myself, and I feel as though I am not in control of my life because I can’t even order food from the shops.

I am relying on my neighbours primarily to get food and resources and they have helped me enormously. One of my neighbours is the loveliest person, she is 68 but still helps me out, and she even did a big shop for me a couple of weeks ago. She has been so kind and so generous with her time to help me, I don’t know what I would do without her!

Another neighbour picks up smaller things for me while she is doing her weekly shop. We have an arrangement where they leave the shopping bags at my door with the receipt inside, and I send them money using a bank transfer. When they do this we often have a little chat while they are on the other side of the doorway! I am so lucky to have them; I am truly blessed with my neighbours.

In my area there are other local groups who can carry out shopping, but I am even more reluctant to ask them for that sort of thing as these are people I have never met. If push came to shove, I would ask them if I were struggling for food.

I have always been an independent person, but at the moment I can’t be. I am relying on my neighbours and dependent on other people to help me in this situation, which is difficult and frustrating. The irony is that I have food for my cats for the next three months, it’s just my food which is difficult to get! The pet websites are easier to order from online and they are still taking orders, even if it takes a bit longer. It is straightforward to get food for cats and dogs; it just isn’t as easy to get human food!

Read Independent Age’s tips for getting a supermarket delivery slot, or finding other places that will deliver food and other essentials.

Independent Age is calling on the Government to allow priority access to supermarkets or online delivery slots to anyone who has been unable to access food and essential goods because of COVID-19. As well as regular meetings with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where we are sharing the stories and experiences of our supporters, we also signed a joint letter alongside a number of other charities to raise awareness of these problems.

Read Independent Age’s tips on getting shopping delivered to your home, including getting a supermarket delivery slot, or finding other shops that will deliver food and other essentials.