IT was a shocking scene, one that took her by surprise.
Hope Webb’s elderly neighbour was lying crumpled at the foot of the stairwell, help nowhere to be seen.
Her cries went unheard until she was too weak to cry anymore.
No one knows what might have happened if Hope hadn’t happened upon her.
But it was a moment that set her thinking about how an elderly person could be so alone. A senior journalist with Forth 1, she recounted the story to her colleagues.
It was then fellow journalist Andrew Murray shared his own story.
A chance conversation with his elderly neighbour, a simple inquiry into how they were doing, revealed that they had not eaten for days.
The simple reason was that they couldn’t make it to the shops and had no one else to ask.
“It was just a conversation to start with,” said Hope, “but we thought there must be something we can do. It was Andrew’s baby really and we spoke to the bosses and said there must be hundreds of stories just like this. We should do a campaign.”
So. this week, the station in association with the Befriending Networks, have launched #TakeTheTime, calling on the local community including Evening News readers to sign up as befrienders and support some of society’s loneliest individuals.
“The more you look into it,” Hope continued, “the more you realise how many people are affected. And it’s not just the elderly. It’s young people, single mums, LGBT, people right across the community.”
Befriending Networks looks to match people’s situations to volunteers and offers training and resources to help.
The Scottish Government launched a national strategy to tackle loneliness and isolation last month, while the UK government unveiled Tracey Crouch as Minister for Loneliness to address the issue which, it estimates, touches around nine million people across the UK ranging from the elderly to young people, people with disabilities, parents of disabled children and more.
Lorraine Herbison, head of news and sport for Bauer Media Scotland said: “Listeners need only donate a couple of hours each week and in exchange they’ll be transforming the lives of lonely and vulnerable local people. Loneliness is a problem that affects all age groups, and throughout this week our news team will be investigating how big an issue it is across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife talking to a range of people from all kinds of backgrounds.
“We’re urging listeners to #TaketheTime to befriend vulnerable people in society.”
Within the first few hours of the campaign going live, 50 people had already signed up, Hope said.
Join at https://planetradio.co.uk/forth/local/news/take-the-time/