VOLUNTEERING AND CAMPAIGNING BECAME A LIFELINE AFTER THE LOSS OF MY HUSBAND

After losing her husband, Barbara Ea- son wanted to get back into volunteering to help her to socialise, stay active and help others. On top of her volunteering, she also found campaigning a comfort to her loss – helping other families who have lost loved ones to cancer due to exposure to asbestos.

Barbara, aged 75, from Ashton-under-Lyne, said: “When my husband Michael died
in April 2005, I knew I had to keep going and do something to help me cope, so I thought to myself, I need to get back into volunteering. So, I came to a new dementia group that was run by Age UK Tameside in the July and I have not looked back since.

“I now support the 131 club three days a week. It is such a lovely, warm, comfortable environment for everyone and I join in with activities including keeping fit, singing, games, crafts and much more.

“I also help to serve lunch and we go out on trips once a month. I love to see every- one enjoying themselves, I get so much enjoyment out of that personally. There is lots of laughter, it is so rewarding, I love every minute of it. It keeps me active and it is much better than doing the housework!”

Michael had taken early retirement as they both planned on doing lots of travelling in a camper van that they had bought and

wanted to spend quality time together. Sadly, Michael passed away just 12 months into retirement from terminal cancer due to being exposed to asbestos – and only three months after being diagnosed.

Barbara said: “At Christmas 2004, he start- ed with a cough, and could not get a deep breath. His diagnosis was such a shock and what it did to him was awful to see. We never got our retirement together, it was so sad. I knew that I had to do something to help others in that situation, so I joined Greater Manchester Asbestos Support Group and have been campaigning ever since to raise awareness of asbestos exposure, as it is still in thousands of buildings, and campaign for proper treatment and care and raise money for research.

“I had never imagined myself becoming a campaigner, I could not have imagined standing up in front of people and have now done that in front of about 500! Through losing him, I feel I have achieved something in my life but of course, I would rather have him here. I can’t do anything for Mike but if I can do something to help other people then that matters. I do get on my soapbox all the time now and I think Mike would be proud of me.

“The campaigning and the volunteering have been a lifeline for me. And I would encourage
anyone who is thinking about it to get into volunteering.”

Barbara volunteers at Age UK Tameside – for more information on the charity, volunteering opportunities and activities go to www.ageuk.org.uk/tameside

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