CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Disabled pensioner: ‘Council want £10 to change a lightbulb’

86-year-old explains how she feels isolated after cuts to services

10 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot

IN a different life Victoria Griffiths Price would have enjoyed a career deciphering hieroglyphics and conducting pains­taking research as an Egyptologist.

Now aged 86, she feels overwhelmed by the pace of modern life, cannot master digital advances and, as a result, is often isolated in her home. Disabled and diagnosed with ME and with other serious medical con­ditions, she says she lives alone in Kentish Town without family or close friends and has no regular carers attending her.

“I have fallen through the cracks,” she said. “I have no support and I often feel confused, with things getting on top of me. And sometimes I just feel like I can’t keep up with everything. “A lot of the time it all feels too much.”

Ms Price used to get help from the Kentish Town Good Neighbour Scheme, which had its funding withdrawn in 2012 following govern­ment austerity cuts. The scheme would send volunteers to visit her at home and she said she was taken out to see films and other events through the service. She has a volunteer friend, who has moved away from the area, but who visits her home every week or so to check she is all right.

Ms Price says she often spends several days without seeing anyone and is not eating as she should be. A help service provided by the council, called Wish Plus, was inadequate, she said. “A lot of the time I don’t cook any dinner because I can’t stand up for long enough,” she said. “I go outside and I feel like I’m in a foreign country. It’s not the different people here, it’s the way people talk to you. No one has time for you.”

Ms Price contacted the New Journal a fortnight ago as the lightbulb in her window-less bathroom had gone out. The council was asking for £10 to come out and fix it, she said. A council tenant she had never been asked for a charge to fix a light bulb, she said.

Instead, she has been making do without a light when she uses the bathroom. She says she has fallen several times.

Ms Price has two mobile phones but has not mastered either of them and often cannot find her messages from the hospital and GP. Another problem is transport to hospital. Often late, she had recently missed her appointment and now she has been marked down as a “no show”.

“It’s the way people to talk to you now,” she said. “They just call you a ‘no-show’, without thinking that it might upset you to be described as a ‘no-show’.”

Last month, Ms Price wrote a long history of her life and gave it to the New Journal. It tells the story of a young woman who was introduced to a GI in Norfolk in 1957, and was moved to Albuquerque in the United States. She has lived in Kentish Town since the 1987 and rues being young in an age when women were denied proper education and were packaged off as housewives. Ms Price said: “I am a thwarted Egyptologist. I love history.” The council said it would be happy to cancel the £10 charge and was trying to contact Ms Price.

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