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Mom Tackles Loneliness Epidemic By Becoming Best Buddies With Housebound Pensioner 40 Years Her Senior

Mandy and David (PA REAL LIFE/CHANGING LIVES/BRIGHTLIFE)

Shocked when she heard that loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, a young single mom told how she started visiting a housebound pensioner 40 years her senior, only for them to become the best of buddies.


After losing her mom when she was 19 and her dad in 2003, Mandy Yasities, 33, a business development manager, knew how acutely loneliness could affect people's physical and mental well-being, so she joined a befriending scheme and was introduced to former trucker David Carter, 74.

Refusing to be put off by his reputation for being “a moaner" Mandy, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England, who has a daughter, Jessica, four, hit it off with David, who could not go out because of health problems.

Mandy and David (PA REAL LIFE/CHANGING LIVES/BRIGHTLIFE)

Now a regular visitor, she loves popping in for "a cuppa and a natter," saying: “We have such a laugh together…when he's able to hear me!

“He characterizes himself as a moaner and I always say to him, 'Why stop doing something you're good at?'

“He had a reputation for being a bit of a grump, but we just hit it off straight away and I don't see that side to him."

Mandy and David (PA REAL LIFE/CHANGING LIVES/BRIGHTLIFE)

Mandy continued: “I really took to him and he calls me, 'My Mandy.'

“He was so down in the dumps when I first met him, but the difference in him now is amazing, in just six months.

“I think he is a bit of a father figure to me. I've lost my parents, so I have felt that loneliness myself and he's someone I can look up to."

Unable to work at present after being diagnosed with Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTs), an abnormal increase in heart rate, and an unknown allergy which leaves her at risk of suffering severe anaphylactic shock, Mandy started to look into volunteering.

Finding the Buddying and Befriending program, which is part of the charity Changing Lives Together, she was keen to join.

Mandy explained: “I found this charity online and thought how nice it would be to give back some of my time, as I was unable to work full time."

David and Mandy (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“I was so shocked by how much loneliness can affect physical health. It's as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes per day and can increase the chance of getting dementia, according to Alzheimer's Research UK," Mandy explained

“When I read this it really hit home that nobody should feel lonely.

“I had an interview and was told they had the perfect match for me – David."

David and Mandy (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Visiting him weekly for six months, Mandy also phones in between to check he is okay.

“David has some physical health problems, including ulcers on his legs, which makes it very difficult for him to get out of the house, so he would go for days without speaking to anyone but his carer before we met," she explained.

“We get on so well, despite the age difference. We just sit and have a cup of tea and his parakeet, Eddie, will start chatting and wolf whistling, or 'shushing' us."

“We talk about all sorts of things – what he's done over the years, his life as a lorry driver, or horse racing," she explained.

“It's nice to hear what life used to be like for him and for him to tell me about the past.

“You can see when he talks about it that he becomes passionate. It brings him joy and excitement."

David having a haircut (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

Mandy continued: “He will talk to me about how he's feeling, and I will listen. But mostly we just have a laugh and take the mickey out of each other.

“It's really made me think about things from his point of view.

“I have friends my own age, but I think about people like David who have worked their whole lives and are now struggling and they deserve more than being left on their own."

Mandy and David (PA REAL LIFE/CHANGING LIVES/BRIGHTLIFE)

She continued: “Visiting David helps me as well, as it gives me real satisfaction and helps with my mental health – being able to talk to someone else. I feel like I'm doing something good."

Mandy is also able to help organize appointments for David, like getting a barber to come and give him a haircut, and she feels her visits have made a real difference.

“He smiles a lot more. He's blossomed," she said.

“He's got a reputation as being a bit of a hard man, but he gets tearful when we talk about the difference it's made to his life with me going 'round there.

“I had a recent stay in hospital and he got upset when I had to miss a visit. 'I thought you'd dumped me!' he said."

While she cannot spend Christmas Day with David, as she will be with her daughter, she will be popping in to see him over the festive period.

Mandy with her dad Peter Yasities before he passed away (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“I will pop in and see him, as I know how hard Christmas can be for people that are lonely. I'll take him a little Christmas present. I was thinking of getting him something funny that takes the mickey out of his moaning," she laughed.

“It's assumed that everyone is happy and joyful at Christmas, but the reality is it's not always like that. People that are lonely are reminded of it even more."

With no family left and suffering with his health, Mandy's visits are all the more important for David.

Mandy with her dad Peter Yasities before he passed away (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

He explained: “It's changed my life. Someone coming and having a natter has made such a difference.

“We've got on smashing since the first time we met. There's definitely a connection.

“She's a very funny girl, very lively and happy and we get on great together."

David continued: “I'd not had anybody come to see me for ages and I've been pretty much housebound for two years because of health problems. I struggle to walk and have problems with my hands.

“I've felt low in the past and like a prisoner in my own home. I retired from driving trucks and everything felt like it all fell apart, particularly because of my health and seeing family members pass away.

“I was very lonely, as nobody would come to see me, but Mandy makes me feel better. She understands a lot of things, so we'll have a cup of tea and a chat."

Mandy (PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT)

“It's something for me to look forward to," David added.

“She also loves my African grey parakeet. She laughs her head off at him. We have a nice time laughing and joking talking about whatever is going on.

“It makes a difference to my soul."

The Buddying and Befriending program is part of the charity Changing Lives Together and was commissioned by Brightlife to reduce loneliness and isolation in the over 50s across Cheshire.

Tracey Walford, who manages the project on behalf of the charity, says there are around nine million lonely people in the UK and around four million of these are older.

She added: “In a recent survey, more than 80 percent of our clients said that their feelings of loneliness had reduced significantly since their buddies started visiting them. Social isolation is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day so the scheme is having a huge impact on older people in the area."