On Wednesday 17th December, Muslim Aid paid a visit to the East London Pension Club at St James The Less Parish, Bethnal Green. The club meets every Wednesday and is open to elderly residents in the Tower Hamlets Borough. As part of Muslim Aid’s Warm Hearts Winter Campaign, 40 Keep Warm Kits (containing blankets, scarves, gloves, socks, a body thermometer and a wall thermometer) were given to members of the pension club. Carole Abbott, founder and leader of the club, received Muslim Aid with a warm welcome inviting the team to eat lunch and take part in the entertainment of bingo and raffles.
Carole established the club voluntarily after her mother’s pension club closed down four years ago. Faced with nowhere to go, Carole decided to take matters in her own hands: “I wanted to do something for the local community, especially pensioners who need an outlet to socialise and meet people. I do all the cooking with my friend Pat,” she said joyfully. The eldest of the club is 97-year-old Fleur. After Fleur’s husband passed away, the club became a place for her to break the loneliness she feels living alone. Bridgette Barker, from Hackney travels all the way to Bethnal Green to meet her friends at the centre. She said: “I think the kits are brilliant because they keep us warm. A lot of women are not steady on their feet and can’t do their own shopping. I wear the gloves and scarf and the socks have been much needed.”
With temperatures falling, winter can be a testing time, particularly for the elderly. Around 30,000 people in the UK die each year from the effects of the cold weather. Many of these deaths are preventable, however poverty and social isolation ensure this cycle continues. Muslim Aid have been providing elderly visitors of the club keep warm kits since 2012.
Muslim Aid’s UK Development Manager, Abu Akeem, explained to everyone how to read the wall thermometer, advising any reading below nine degrees was too cold and precautions need to be taken by wrapping up warm and heating the room. As Carole explained: “The kits are so useful as they help the elderly keep warm in the winter. A lot of them can’t afford to buy them and go without. It’s important for organisations like Muslim Aid to support us and recognise the effects the cold weather has on the vulnerable. A very big thank you to Muslim Aid, you guys are so kind.”