A SOLIHULL family has set an objective to combat loneliness among the borough’s elderly residents by opening a new community group.
The Drew family – including project manager, Scott Drew – were inspired to start a new venture after engaging with Age UK and seeing the effects of the borough’s ageing population.
Solihull has a heavily ageing population, the wider implications of which include a likely increase in demand for voluntary and community services, rising numbers of carers and increased risk of social isolation and loneliness.
The Senior Citizen’s Friendship Group has been set-up to provide a venue for elderly residents to gather and socialise.
The group had its first meeting last week in which refreshments and freshly baked cakes were provided.
The meetings offer a chance for residents to play games and stay stimulated while all proceeds from the weekly bingo game go to Age UK.
The group was founded by Laura Wright and Leanne Smyth who play an instrumental role in organising meetings.
It has been funded entirely by Mr Drew, Ms Wright and Ms Smyth – with donations received dedicated to improving the group and expanding its influence.
Mr Drew said the first meeting, which took place in Lyndon Pub, had a small but promising turn out.
The group will meet on Wednesdays at the pub in the future.
Mr Drew said: “My family and I became inspired after taking part in the previous Christmas shoebox appeals and donating Christmas presents to the Age UK Christmas party.
“After talking to the ladies at Age UK it hit home to them at how many pensioners in our community deal with loneliness and segregation.
“We decided on a date and venue and we invested time, money and effort into getting items, meeting with Age UK Solihull and advertising.
“By doing this they hope to achieve a positive community outlook on how local residents, like themselves, have the ability to make such a huge difference to others.
“Also the main reasoning for this is that they both want to curb the loneliness within our elderly community by providing somewhere comfortable and inviting.
“It is free of charge. There are unlimited hot beverages and cakes, fruit and biscuits available throughout the morning.
“Games, activities, knitting etc and an optional weekly game of Bingo in which a desired donation is collected for Age UK Solihull.”
Chief executive of Age UK Solihull, Anne Hastings, said: “We run similar clubs and the fact that they are so well attended and popular says a lot about the success of the idea.
“Friendship clubs like this are a very important resource to ensure that older people do get a chance to get out and socialise, meet new people and have something to look forward to each week.
“We know that loneliness can be crippling and we welcome community initiatives like this, and pay tribute to the organisers and wish it every success.”