Creative Support Community Links team helps to beat loneliness

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mick Krysko and Jacqueline Breadley working at the Sunflower Allotment in Keighley Mick Krysko and Jacqueline Breadley working at the Sunflower Allotment in Keighley

Loneliness and isolation can affect general wellbeing and while it can affect young people, older people are often more susceptible.

Retirement or the loss of a loved one can mean older people often venture less out of their own front door. Socialising is imperative to people in that position.

These are just some of the circumstances which can prompt a lifestyle change, but the Creative Support Community Links team hope local people will tell them what they want when they host a launch event at Scholemoor Community Centre in Dracup Avenue tomorrow.

Working in partnership with the centre manager, Matthew Milnes, the team want to hear about ideas for new activities and groups.

In addition, community wardens, the local Neighbourhood Policing staff and local housing officer will also be on hand to offer information.

Funded by the charity Supporting People, Creative Support hopes to set up groups such as craft and walking groups – but they want to know from local people what they want so they can facilitate them.

Andrea Pickersgill, Community Links Facilitator with Creative Support based in Bradford, explains the aim is for the groups to be eventually run by volunteers.

“We are looking at whatever things are in the community and if someone says they would like to set up an art and craft group or a gardening group – we have a gardening group who meet at Harden – we will look at facilitating it,” says Andrea.

“It gets people out and about,” she adds.

“While we will facilitate it in the first instance and help people to set up and point them in the direction of funding, the eventual aim is for local people to take ownership of the groups that they are involved in and to take the role in running them for themselves which is where the volunteers come in.

“Eventually we hope the groups will be able to run themselves.”

One of the initiatives Creative Support has been involved in is the Sunflower Allotment Society. Although the group had been established many years before Creative Support’s involvement, struggles seeking funding led to Creative Support coming on board.

They helped the group secure £1,200 through POCA funding (Proceeds of Crime Act) which, in turn, has enabled the group to invest in a new drainage system and tools and carry out general improvements to the area they occupy within the Royd Ings allotment site in Keighley.

Funding from the Skipton Building Society has also helped the group put in additional raised beds and paving.

John Barfoot, the group’s treasurer, became involved in Creative Support after seeking to pass on his skills when he retired from teaching.

John was already involved with the allotment group which has become a real social enterprise, growing veg which it has distributed free within the local community.

“The basic structure was there, but we were just limping along so their support did do a lot,” says John, referring to the assistance they received from Creative Support.

Being involved in an initiative such as the Sunflower Allotment Society brings many benefits to its volunteers too, both physically from the exercise they get digging and planting and also socially.

“For those people who are on their own, there is social interaction. We have a nice friendly chat and we are a real mix of people. It gets them out of their homes to mix with the wider world and it does them a lot of good,” says John.

Carolyn Holmes, secretary of the group, says it gives people less of a sense of loneliness.

“It’s an hour or two. It’s something else to think about and being in the fresh air is good. People like meeting other people and the things you do you can see the end result,” says Carolyn.

For more information about the launch meeting at Scholemore Community Centre tomorrow call (01274) 482438 or (01274) 522231.

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