Responding to loss and loneliness
28th October 2020
Oyovwe Kigho lives with her husband Richard and four children in Oldham.
Three years ago, she founded the Widows’ Empowerment Trust after seeing a close friend lose her husband and sensing her loneliness and social isolation.
Oyovwe is one of 12 people who have a bench dedicated to them to celebrate her invaluable support to her community during the covid 19 pandemic.
A registered charity, the trust today runs support groups three nights a week as well as arts and crafts workshops and karaoke sessions.
It also provides professional development in social care learning skills for social care for universities and students, with services in Blackley, Charlestown and central Manchester.
In lockdown, this expanded to running extra services including bingo, arts and craft quizzes and exercise sessions as phone calls, befriending sessions and helping provide provisions and shopping.
Oyovwe studied Social Care at university before setting up the charity after releasing there was a gap in services for bereavement, grief and loss.
The charity also provides opportunities for students and volunteers from Manchester University and Manchester Metropolitan University to help in the community.
After lockdown Oyovwe was faced with recruiting extra volunteers to keep in regular contact with its members. For some of the elderly, Zoom proved too difficult and frustrating, while others just weren’t able to adapt.
At times the charity, which is supported by National Lottery funding, even sent a helper around in PPE equipment to help set up a Zoom connection for them as well as providing help with shopping.
Oyovwe says: “It’s been very, very challenging. It’s been difficult to get volunteers to put themselves forward in the middle of the pandemic and some of our beneficiaries aren’t in Manchester, which meant driving on the motorways to wherever they were.
“On one particular occasion when one of our beneficiaries was very, very sick and had not eaten for days. I had to personally drive down to his home because he had nobody to help him and prepared some food because he didn’t have any support or anyone to help him.
She says: “He really appreciated it. We were able to give him a few day’s worth of food to keep in his fridge and he was fine. He sent a thank you card, which was lovely, but things like that are really tough, especially when people are vulnerable and have no family members who can come around.”
Oyovwe has previously been awarded given a Special Recognition Award for British Citizens by ITV’s Good Morning Britain and a Points of Light by the Prime Minister.
The charity is just one of many supported by The National Lottery with players contributing around £30 million a week to good causes.
Oyovwe says: “The National Lottery funding has really been helpful, especially for our volunteers.
“Having the National Lottery backing to support us and fund some of our projects has been invaluable.”