Sheila's Story Sheila 78, moved to Northern Ireland from England in the mid eighties when she met Stewart. She is a very outgoing lady who likes to be busy and over the years she has been involved in drama groups, public speaking and has sat on committees for older people’s groups. In recent years Sheila has had some health challenges including cancer and arthritis; this has made it harder for her to get out and about. Sadly Stewart passed away in 2018. Despite these setbacks Sheila continues to have a positive outlook on life and does not let anything stand in her way. She enjoys cruises and city breaks several times a year and is an avid theatre goer. She is a big fan of Belfast’s Grand Opera house because public transport leaves her right outside. Age NI's Advice service Sheila contacted our Advice and Advocacy service in July 2019 looking for information of groups or activities that she could get involved in. Our Advice team referred her to First Connect for further support. One of our First connect co-ordinators, Samantha went to visit Sheila. Sheila spoke about her recent bereavement and how her mobility issues were making it difficult for her to go places. She said keeping busy is her coping mechanism and although holidays and theatre going make it look like an active life, in reality, without family in this country, there are long periods with nothing purposeful to do. Shelia is a very independent person who wants to continue to be social and make connections with others in her community. Samantha introduced Shelia to the University of the Third Age, which she hadn’t come across before. Together we made contact with some of the group leaders who agreed to meet with Sheila over the coming months. Sheila is now looking forward to a lunch date with U3A members, an information day and a theatre event; she is confident that now the initial connection has been made her social network will continue to grow and with it her emotional wellbeing and sense of value in life. Speaking about her experience of our First Connect service Shelia said; “I am very satisfied with the First Connect service as they listened to my needs and supported me. I would like the service to be more widely known so that other older people could avail of it. The experience has reminded me of my favourite saying “in this life you have to have difficult times before you can appreciate the good times!” If you or an older person you know needs advice or support please call our Freephone advice service on 0808 808 7575.