Support for the sick and lonely at Christmas (and other times)
The most wonderful time of the year?
The Riviera sun, sea and lifestyle don’t always compensate for the considerable distances from family and friends many resident expats experience. Day to day life can be particularly challenging over the holidays, which can stretch into a long and solitary season. Here are English-speaking associations whose support can make all the difference – and not just at Christmas.
The Bereavement Support Network of the Var
BSN (www.bsnvar.org) was launched over ten years ago to allow those going through difficult and painful times the chance to talk about the loved one they’ve lost with someone who’s been through the same experience, a trained person who can offer useful advice.
Mim Kay, president of the BSN, says, “This organisation exists to support not only the bereaved but also those who are terminally ill, and their families and friends.”
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from their confidential, free support, then contact Sandra on 04 94 84 64 89 or 06 32 35 31 24.
Christmas many people support their favourite charities financially but it’s equally important to remember those elderly people living on their own, either at home or in a retirement home.
Anyone interested in visiting the Victoria Retirement Home in Mouans-Sartoux would be welcome to join the daily English tea, or to attend other events that Sunny Bank (www.sunny-bank.org) organise for residents, both anglos and French.
“Christmas can be a very lonely time for those without close family or friends,” Alison Lion, who leads Sunny Bank’s Welfare activities, reminds us, “and spending a couple of hours talking to residents can be mutually rewarding.”
Helen can also provide you with information about “Albert”, a Senior Residents facility scheduled to open early 2016 in Mouans-Sartoux. The 33 luxury apartment units are “for people who can still lead independent lives but seek the peace of mind of having ready access to services that are adapted to their needs”.
Sunny Bank’s goal is to fill half of the available accommodation with English speakers, which they believe will enhance the quality of life among residents.
Alice Rolfe, 12, has a “diaversary” approaching in December. During a family visit family to the UK last Christmas, Alice was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (when the body produces no insulin) after a trip to the emergency room. She was given injection pens, a blood glucose check kit and enough insulin to last her until the family returned home to Monaco. “We realised our lives would never be the same again,” her father Ben says.
Ben has done his best to raise awareness and money for the cause through his running (see his blog www.pussyfootingaround.net), but as there were no local help groups for kids with Type 1 Diabetes, the Rolfes were relying on support from Diabetes UK.
Since then, Ben and his wife Sally have been working together with other families in similar situations and have now pooled their resources with the association KidiDiabete.
“It’s predominantly French-speaking,” Ben explains, “but we are trying to increase awareness amongst expats.”
SOS Cancer du Sein
Founded in May 2012, SOS Cancer du Sein is a nonprofit association based in Nice, which offers support to women with breast cancer or gynaecological cancer, and to their families.
In addition to helping patients adjust to living with the disease and raising awareness, president Barbara Prot tells the Reporter, “SOS believes the benefits of good physical and mental health improve the effectiveness of related treatments and fight against relapse. We organise sport, wellness and personal development activities in the region, like Les Régates ‘Rose’ in Antibes last October during Cancer Awareness Month.”
We’d point out to readers that Barbara lived in New York, Chicago and London for years and speaks English very well. There are two other English-speaking volunteers on the helpline, that’s 0811 069 04 34.