This is Iris King, nonagenarian and Dartmouth born and bred. She is a great story-teller of tales of Dartmouth past, which combined with a big sense of humour and strong opinions, means there is never a dull moment in her company!
Last year Iris suffered a serious health issue and struggles with her mobility, meaning that going out every day and seeing her fellow friends and neighbours has become a challenge, but her local community have become the answer.
Residents, volunteers, community
Dartmouth Community Chest are a grassroots organisation, and part of the TQ6 Community Partnership. They are all local residents, all volunteers, a community looking after their own, no strings attached, no money to pay, no health assessment, no means testing.
Sharing stories, sharing skills
Iris is still very independent and is not so keen on what’s on offer for ‘people her age’ through social care organisations. What she loves is being with her community, sharing stories, sharing knitting skills and she particularly loves the energy of younger generations, especially children. Her secret to reaching 90 is “eating well and going out every day in my community”.
What the community do for Iris is treat her like a member of their own family and she feels OK accepting that unconditional support from trusted friends. It means she keeps connected, safe and enjoys life despite the pain she is so often in. But it isn’t ‘one way’ as Iris gives back by being able to share and connect with others in her community.
Iris is a keen knitter and the Community Chest team help her get to her Knit and Natter group, where she not only shares tips, patterns and ideas, but supports others in learning skills, and of course shares her Dartmouth stories! She also knits to raise money for charities. Her community family make sure she can get to any community event from the Christmas dinner to the weekly community Hub days where she shares great conversations and encourages others to knit and share their stories.
A gentle watch
They keep a gentle watch on her by dropping in on her, helping with shopping and keeping her as mobile and as independent as possible by doing things on her terms. Most importantly they keep her connected to the community she loves.
As it became harder for Iris to leave home they got her a wheelchair to make going out easier. The Community Chest Shop volunteers love Iris and she is often seen being wheeled about by the younger men who volunteer, who have shut the shop just because Iris looks like she could do with some fresh air!