Mother-of-three Lucy Ashen has lived in the same apartment in London for 21 years. An elderly woman also lives in the same building, and Lucy noticed that the woman seemed very lonely, with no visitors dropping by to check on her.
Lucy has tried to make contact with her neighbour before, but the old woman appeared to find it hard to trust people and has instead isolated herself. She also suffers from mental illness.
But recently, Lucy managed to win the woman’s confidence and was allowed into the apartment – where she was shocked by what she saw.
“What I saw when I entered will stay with me forever,” she wrote on her Facebook wall.
The woman hadn’t cleaned her apartment in ages and was living in her own dirt. She had no real food and her furniture and clothes were torn. It turned out that the old woman had not bathed in 13 years.
Lucy didn’t hesitate for a moment – she decided to do everything she could to help her neighbour. Her 14-year-old daughter also stepped in to help. Lucy took to Facebook to explain the situation.
She wrote: “I have lived in Fulham all my life, and I’ve been in the part I am now for 21 years…..and I have an elderly neighbour. She lives on her own in a one bedroom flat and she has mental health issues. For legal reasons I am not allowed to name her, so I will call her My Lady, she calls me Lucy Locket.
“Up until 10 days ago this lady was living in indescribable filth and squalor.”
“There was no food, filthy clothes, nobody to help her bathe, and just never ending loneliness and despair. I had tried on numerous occasions over the last few years to gain access to her property to help her, as I knew she was living in less than acceptable conditions, I just didn’t realise how bad.
“What I saw when she finally let me in will stay with me forever!
“It was horrific! NOBODY should live like it! So without stopping to think, I gutted her house! I mean everything went down to the toilet seat. I knew I needed help at this point, so without thinking too much of it I put a post on Facebook asking for help along with a list of what she needed.
“I could not have dreamt what would happen next! The response has been overwhelming! I had around 80% of the list within 24 hours! The offers of help, the donations of goods and the beautiful messages of support still continue and it has astounded me.
“It took me over 60 hours of cleaning to get her flat to an acceptable level for her to live in and 11 days on I’m still not finished!
“But with the kindness and generosity of the people who donated items I have been able to turn her house into a home.
“She has everything she could need, a bed to sleep in (she was sleeping on the floor) good clean furniture, fresh new bedding, beautiful new clothes, three meals a day, and most importantly company.
“She truly has been saved from a lonely and degrading life, she has been given her dignity back and I intend for her to live out the rest of her life in comfort and surrounded by love.”
Little Things report she added: “On the Monday I gave My Lady her first bath in 13 years!…….prior to that she had only washed her face and cleaned her teeth in the kitchen sink. She was so unsteady on her feet that she could not possibly have accessed the bath or shower for herself.
When I told her I was going to give her a bath she said, ‘I’m not sure about that, I think I might be too scared, I might fall’ I said to her, ‘That is why I am here now, to help you. You don’t have to be scared anymore.’
“My 14 year old daughter Ruby was amazing! She would sit and watch TV with her and talk to her for hours while I was cleaning. She would brush her hair, and help her to get dressed, she even introduced her to Snapchat!
“Ruby gave up the last week of her Summer Holidays to keep My Lady company while I cleaned. On seeing the terrible state My Lady was in, Ruby became just as determined as me to change things for her, she showed so much strength and compassion for someone so young. I honestly do not think Our Lady would be at the stage she is now without you giving up all of your time for her.
“I know she loves you to bits, she asks about you every day now and I explain that you have gone back to school, but when you come into see her in the evening her face lights up, she loves it!”
“…But this story’s bigger than me doing something for her. It’s about mental health and looking after elderly people. There must be thousands more people like her who are lonely, hungry and can’t quite look after themselves but who don’t know where to go for support, which is heartbreaking.”
What a wonderful gesture by Lucy and her daughter! What heroes they are. We need to take better care of our elderly. Unfortunately, there are many who live alone today. If you see someone in your neighbourhood who is alone, take the opportunity to ask how they are, if you can help them with something or maybe talk to them for a while. It can often go a long way!
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