“You are not so much alone”
Ray Bage, 68 from Brambles Farm, has been involved with the Ageing Better Middlesbrough programme for two years.
He worked with Wendy from our team who helped him tackle his feelings of loneliness and isolation which has given Ray the confidence to get out and about more.
Ray says he wants to tell his story – even if it helps just one person.
He said: “Having Ageing Better Middlesbrough means you are not so much alone.
“I wouldn’t have got out and met so many people.
“In high rise flats like these people can get really isolated. It used to have a good community feel and now it is like passing ships in the night.”
Watch Ray speak about his experience:
“I was born in Middlesbrough in 1950 in my gran’s house and taken to the eye infirmary where they removed cataracts. I was one of the first babies to have it removed, it was even in the paper. I am totally blind now but had some vision when I was younger.
“I went to boarding school and did not like being away from home. I started drinking when I was 18 and my drinking got worse after my mam and dad died. I was in denial about my drinking and it went on for 20 years.
“I then went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and started working at the blind place on Ayresome industrial.
“It saved my life working and getting sober. The AA 12 step programme is a programme for living and I am keeping up with it. I am now 31 years clean of alcohol and I meditate every day.
Ray explains what his life was like before Ageing Better Middlesbrough: “It was not too bad, it was not brilliant.”
He now goes to the Men’s Shed allotment in Berwick Hills every Tuesday which is really helpful: “My support workers take me. We are growing vegetables.
“I enjoy reading nonfiction books in braille and I can touch type. I type up all my feelings which really helps me clear my mind.
“I am grateful to be a recovering alcoholic through the help of others and self-help. I have evolved now after my rehabilitation officer showed me to how live, like using the slow cooker, cleaning and everyday things.
“I am grateful I can hear music and the TV and the communicated words from someone.
“When I look back I have come through a heck of an era. Things are not the same as they were when I was younger. Everyone said ‘good morning’ and had a sense of community. I think there is small pockets of people who live in nice communities.”
“As a member you get the information through the newsletter. It is emailed to me which is helpful because my computer can read it out.”
Ray hopes to volunteer at Recovery Connect where he will listen to others and share his experience of how he coped.