A pensioner says he has been saved from a spiral of pandemic depression after starting a new job at the Fife cafe he has been visiting during lockdown.
Raymond Nicholls, 82, who lives alone and has no family members close by, has been popping in to Cupcake Coffee Box in Kirkcaldy High Street every day in a bid to keep his spirits up.
Raymond, who moved to the town from Stockport after his wife died in 2002, has found the loneliness difficult to combat during the pandemic.
Now, after learning of his struggle, kindhearted cafe owner, Mike Lowe has offered him a job for one hour a day.
Raymond can be found cleaning tables, welcoming customers and serving take-away coffees and snacks.
He says the act of friendship has been a “massive help” and has done much to improve his mental health.
“I’ve been visiting the cafe virtually every day since last year in an effort to have some social interaction with other people and to help me cope,” Raymond said.
“Without the cafe to come to each day I’d have practically no other interaction with anyone.
“When Mike heard this he instantly offered to take me on for an hour or so a day, and I can’t thank him enough.”
Raymond said the pandemic had been particularly difficult for the elderly and especially those living alone.
“I can vouch for the times when you feel very, very alone and vulnerable,” he said.
“I’m lucky, despite my age I’m in good health and stay active by going out and for walks every day but the pandemic has hit elderly people very hard.
“Only last week a fellow pensioner said to me that he felt those who had passed away were effectively better off than those still living in total isolation and facing lockdown.
“That’s a terrible situation to be faced with and I’m so glad I now have a reason to come out every day and interact with others.”
Raymond said he counts himself one of the lucky ones and is now urging others to consider helping a lonely pensioner.
“Looking out of an elderly neighbour or just chatting once in a while can make the world of difference to someone who otherwise would have any means of human interaction. We can all help each other,” he added.
Mike said it was the least he could do after learning of how the cafe had become a vital part of Raymond’s life.
“I’ve spoken to many elderly people really struggling to get through this second lockdown.
“Many come out just for 20 minutes or so to break the monotony by sitting outside and having a chat.
“That’s why I’ve offered to deliver a coffee or a cake to anyone suffering right now just so they can have a chat and at least ease that difficulty of isolation.”