Woman's uplifting mission to transform elderly neighbour's life: “I want to fill her years with love and happiness”

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Amy Swales
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A woman who realised her elderly neighbour had been living alone in “indescribable filth and squalor” has seen her story go viral after spending more than 60 hours cleaning the woman’s flat – as well as helping her have her first bath in 13 years.

Lucy Ashen first noticed the condition of the house after the neighbour – in her seventies and suffering severe dementia – locked herself out and Ashen helped her get back in.

Writing on her Facebook page, Ashen said she was shocked to see just how bad the situation had become: “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.”

After spending the last week of the school holidays gutting the house while her teenage daughter spent time with the neighbour, who is remaining anonymous for privacy reasons, Ashen put a list on Facebook asking for a few items – never imagining the response would see her post shared worldwide.

Having received furniture, food and clothing – including a trolleyful of shopping from the local Tesco – Ashen is still seeing gifts and donations fly in from all over the world, with one supporter buying the lifelong Fulham FC fan two tickets for a home game.

Writing on Facebook, Ashen said: “The offers of help, the donations of goods and the beautiful messages of support still continue and it has astounded me […]

“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.”

The touching story goes far beyond an intense spring clean and heart-warming headlines, as via sweet updates on her Facebook page, My Lady and Me, Ashen reveals she spends hours with her neighbour every day, organising doctor’s appointments, eye tests, meetings with social workers and ID documents, as well as sorting practical issues in the house, such as arranging a new boiler and mobility aids. All things her neighbour would have had no chance of doing alone, but that will improve her day-to-day life no end.

Ashen hopes to raise awareness of elderly people with no family living in isolation, and has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for day trips.

She writes: “When I first accessed her house she told me her TV was broken and said it had been like it for four years. On turning it on I realised the language had been set to a foreign language and she didn't know how to fix it! Four years! Because not one single sole [sic] had walked through her door to help her, she had sat in silence for four years!

“I want to fill her years with love laughter and happiness because God knows she has had so many without it! We may have changed her life, but now I want her to live!”

Main image: iStock


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.