Over the last week, Newcastle has had several inches of snow, and most of the elderly members of my congregation have been nervous about going outside. They have seen the resulting misery brought about by broken bones which heal slowly, and have wisely hibernated.
I have been delighted to see that all of them have state funded carers, cleaners, and shoppers who pop in to see that all is well. Many have also experienced thoughtful care from neighbours, friends and relatives of course. Not one has been alone all week.
That is a strong affirmation of the caring state, who provide contact for the elderly living alone. Budget cuts in Newcastle threaten that model, and in years to come the church (with neighbours, friends and relatives) will need to be more vigilant and active.
And of course those who can’t buy in care will suffer first – the elderly poor will be hit hardest. Newcastle needs to save £20 million, while other parts of the country get a rise in their council budget. But don’t get me started on that…