How COVID-19 made one community closer than ever before

The heartwarming and unexpected stories of how COVID-19 made one community closer than ever before

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Coronavirus has made this year a tough one for us all.

Fortunately, many of us now have the freedom to be out again, catching up with friends and family, or even returning to our offices where we can spend time with our colleagues in person.

However, for some older people who are less able to get out and about, particularly those living on their own, the loneliness that came about during lockdown is still ongoing, bringing with it a lot of anxiety.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. We meet some of the individuals who have found strength and friendship during lockdown, thanks to their retirement communities.

‘Together alone’ 

Simply knowing friendly people are near by can transform someone’s life – particularly during difficult times

Not having someone around to lean on is tough, but during uncertain times such as these, feeling isolated can have a detrimental impact on our mental health.

A staggering 80% of older people have reported feeling lonely this year but felt they weren’t able to tell anyone about it. This heartbreaking stat just goes to show how important it is for individuals to have a physical support network around them, both now and for the future.

But how do you tackle this problem while helping people maintain their independence? After all, as important as community is, it’s equally crucial to have your own space.

An increasingly popular solution is private homeownership or renting in a community living site, such as those offered by McCarthy & Stone. 

People have the choice of a number of stylishly decorated properties which they can either buy or rent, but benefit from being surrounded by their friends. Plus, help is at hand in the form of site managers should anyone need it – everyone’s together, but they can be alone, too.

Cheryl Bissett has noticed how much happier her mother has been since becoming a McCarthy & Stone homeowner

Community living 

With over 80% of older people experiencing loneliness and not telling anyone, being part of a friendly community has never been more important.

McCarthy & Stone homeowners and renters have the ideal live balance, enjoying the privacy of their own properties while having access to a tight-knit community of neighbours. Plus, there’s a House Manager on site should they ever need a helping hand.

This balance of community and independence has improved the quality of life of 90% of McCarthy & Stone homeowners. Furthermore, 96% felt safe and secure in their home, and 94% have found their new properties easy to maintain.

Cheryl Bissett, a sales and marketing director, has firsthand experience of the life-changing effect this ‘together alone’ lifestyle can have.

In 2017, her 84-year-old mother Isobel was widowed, and was struggling to get used to life alone in their old family home.

It made sense to both of them for Isobel to downsize, but Cheryl was also keen to find her mother a home where she could have people around her – both for company and if she ever needed help.

‘Mum downsized to an apartment in Cranberry Court, a McCarthy & Stone development near me in Peterborough, and she blossomed,’ Cheryl reveals. ‘She went from being isolated and lonely to making a whole host of wonderful new friends – her life was filled again!’

It wasn’t long either before Isobel was making an impression on her new neighbours; an early highlight came on Valentine’s Day when she found a red rose on her doorstep left by an anonymous admirer. ‘My dad wasn’t that romantic,’ laughs Cheryl, ‘so mum was absolutely tickled pink.’

Prior to lockdown confining millions of Brits to their homes, Isobel had access to a full social calendar that she could dip in and out of to her heart’s content. From coffee mornings with the girls to book clubs and film nights, there was always an opportunity to get to know her neighbours.

McCarthy & Stone properties offer beautifully finished apartments in gorgeous surroundings

This tight-knit community really came into its own when the pandemic was at its peak, and knowing her mother wasn’t alone gave Cheryl huge peace of mind.

‘I’ve found it all really amazing. I’ve been dropping by to deliver shopping, and end up standing in the garden talking to lots of different people from their balconies.

‘It’s a lovely neighbourly vibe, almost like an old-fashioned street,’ Cheryl continues. ‘And if someone is able to go out to the shops, they’ll do the job lot for everyone.’

Safety in numbers 

Life-of-the-party John Pritchard has thrived throughout the pandemic and beyond, and is glad to have such a friendly community right on his doorstep

Much like Isobel, 76-year-old John Pritchard found himself alone in a big house after losing his beloved wife Gill.

Known by his family as a man full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, the loss of his wife knocked him for six, and the prospect of being alone for the foreseeable future started to have a serious impact on his mental wellbeing.

Fortunately, his daughter Sue spotted the perfect solution: a swish two-bed private apartment in the new Bourne End McCarthy & Stone development, a Thames-side spot set in beautiful manicured gardens in Buckinghamshire.

With a new space to call his own and lots of new neighbours to meet, it didn’t take long for John to rebound, and he spread his infectious vitality throughout the community with an exciting line-up of social events. Murder mystery nights, sport events and themed food nights were just some of his ideas.

When the pandemic hit, John was able to continue his social life in safety. He had the freedom to move within the community as well as keep in touch with his friends from his very own balcony for some of his much-loved ‘balcony banter’, something he might have struggled with had he stayed in his former property.

Now, with restrictions cautiously being lifted, John is – as ever – busy making plans. ‘We’re going to have a big party in the garden with a barbecue and music to thank everyone who helped us get through this. We’re really going to let our hair down!’

And if that isn’t the cure for loneliness, what is?


Whether you’re looking for a taste of the community lifestyle yourself or want to support a loved one move home, visit today to find out about the benefits of McCarthy & Stone living.

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