Former chef tackles loneliness among his neighbours at Leeds retirement property

A kind-hearted Leeds man has been helping to reduce isolation and loneliness among neighbours at his retirement home.

Monday, 3rd June 2019, 2:39 pm

Geoff Bickleys, who is a resident at Anchor Hanover’s Leeds retirement property Mary Sunley House, first started helping out by breathing life into the estate gardens by growing flowers and herbs. He quickly followed this up when he grew his own fruit and vegetables, which he regularly shares with his neighbours. He also turns some of the produce into tasty jams and chutneys to donate to charity.

The 65-year-old former chef and Kosher baker moved to the property in January 2014 and has since carried out a host of volunteering activities to support his neighbours and the local community.

Scheme manager Daniel Lucas said: “Since I started my role here, Geoff has been a fantastic source of support for residents.

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“He has a real can-do attitude, whether it’s shopping for his fellow residents or sharing fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden.”

Earlier this year Geoff also volunteered for an asylum seeker project at St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds. The project involved raising money to feed and support a group of asylum seekers who were staying in temporary accommodation.

Geoff’s cooking and kitchen management experience served him well when he put his chef’s hat back on and also set about arranging for food donations from various shops and restaurants around Leeds.

Geoff, who shared his experiences for Volunteers’ Week, said: “Until very recently I never really thought that I was volunteering. Helping others has always given me a real sense of purpose and, if using my skills and past experience is able to give a person a better life, then that’s all the reward I need.”