South Tyneside veteran praises support from Hebburn Helps after supermarket 'meltdown' during pandemic
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After an operation in October, Janette Bowman, aged 54, was just starting to get back on her feet when the lockdown hit.
Despite pain in her ankle, knee and hip, Janette ventured out shopping for the first time in 18 months, but was left in tears after struggling in the supermarket.
“My friend had been doing my shopping for me but I decided to try and go myself, said Janette – who previously served in the Royal Engineers.
“It was a complete nightmare. I had a meltdown and had to get a taxi home. I sat in my kitchen and sobbed.”
Janette had been referred to community musculoskeletal healthcare specialists Connect Health, to help manage her condition and had her first telephone consultation that day.
She was so distressed that her physiotherapist Charlotte Luther contacted South Tyneside food bank and crisis response centre Hebburn Helps.
The team were outside her door with a food package within the hour.
Charlotte, whose partner Michael Booth has been volunteering for the charity during the pandemic, said: “Janette’s appointment was to help with pain management but she was extremely distressed and I knew we had to do something.
“She explained that she didn’t have the food she needed because of her mobility issues and had nothing to feed her dog. I got Janette’s consent, and arranged for a delivery to be made.”
Janette, who has been plagued by mobility problems for years, has undergone two major operations and struggles with painful arthritis, which eventually led to her giving up work as a charity fundraiser.
She was ‘overwhelmed’ by the gesture, she said: “It was so lovely of them. It’s a scary time at the moment and it’s very isolating when you live alone. I have friends who help me walking my dog and getting my shopping. People are really kind but they don’t accept money and I feel bad, so I don’t ask. That day I was in a terrible state.”
During the pandemic Hebburn Helps has delivered packed lunches to hundreds of children and provided over 1,000 meals to elderly residents.
The incident inspired Connect Health employees to set up a donation page for food banks in the borough, raising over £500 to help others like Janette.
Charlotte added: “We know that stress, anxiety and depression can impact pain so it was crucial to help manage the situation she found herself in. That’s part and parcel of the job, and it’s important for people to know that community support is out there.”
Hebburn Helps co-founder, Angie Comerford commented: “It’s so nice to lend a hand, especially for somebody like Janette who is a proud lady and doesn’t want to be in the position she’s in. That’s exactly where we can step up and get a parcel straight out of the door.”