AS we head into winter, local friendly society, Bradford Oddfellows is urging people to keep meeting up with friends, despite the ongoing cost-of-living challenges.

The group - which has more than 400 mostly older and retired members based in and around the Bradford district - recognises the importance of staying social and the positive impact it has on physical and mental wellbeing.

Friendship is important during difficult times, says Branch Secretary Lisa Waugh and especially important during the winter months when we tend to retreat into our homes and mix less.

Said Lisa: “Last winter was hard on people’s pockets and wellbeing. Struggles around the increased cost of living meant many had to make significant cutbacks.

“At the Oddfellows, we believe friendship is an essential, particularly when times are tough and during winter when we can feel more isolated. Company provides comfort and support, and has to be prioritised.

“A good chat can bring light relief and help ease worries, and being able to share a problem might offer a new perspective.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A recent event organised by the friendship groupA recent event organised by the friendship group (Image: Oddfellows Friendship Group)

The local friendship group also wants to remind people that socialising doesn’t need to be expensive.

Social Co-ordinator Emma Marshall says: “When you’re stretched financially, you have no choice but to look at how you can spend less. But it’s not where you get together with other people that matters, just that you’re getting together - whether that’s meeting up in the park with a flask, at each other’s homes or in the local library.

“With our group meet-ups, we make sure there are as few barriers to friendship as possible and we make them as affordable and accessible as we can.”

Recent events run by the group, which are open to all to try, have included indoor bowls with a beef stew supper and a Festive Fayre with entertainment from a ukulele band.

The group’s monthly lunch club next meets on Wednesday, November at 12noon at Carlton House, Bradford. The club provides a three course homemade meal for £7 to members and £10 to guests.

Sue Jones, aged 75, has been a member of Bradford Oddfellows for 17 years. She says: “I’ve got a great bunch of friends here at the Oddfellows. People who I can have a laugh with, but also who I know I can turn to if needs be.

“And it’s great knowing that I’ve always got something in my diary to look forward to that doesn’t cost the earth.”

The society also lists around 50 free online events on its website each month that are open to the public to attend.

Established in 1810, the Oddfellows is one of the largest and oldest friendly societies in the UK, with around 37,000 members across 99 branches nationwide.

Members also have access to a range of benefits including care and welfare support and a travel club.

Says Emma: “We are a non-profit mutual run by our members for our members, and we do our best to improve the quality of people’s lives through friendship, care and charity.

“It costs from £25 a year to join us as a member and become part of our friendly society.”

Tomorrow (Saturday November 25) Oddfellows is holding a free festive fayre in aid of Martin House.  Taking place at Woodbottom Social Club, Otley Road, Baildon Bridge, from 1-4pm, there will be Christmas gifts, food and ukelele Christmas carols. 

* Events coming up in December and January:

December 4: Film screening: A Boy Called Christmas, with pulled pork sandwich lunch, Carlton House, 12 noon.

December 7: Christmas party with singer Tony Gold and Christmas buffet, Carlton House, 7.30pm.

December 13: Christmas Lunch Club, Carlton House, 12noon.

December 14: Christmas party with singer Richie Brooks and buffet, Woodbottom Social Club, 7.30pm.

December 19: Festive Zoom quiz, 7.30pm.

December 21: Solstice Advent Window Walk, meet Saltaire Church, 4pm.

December 29: Twixmas walk, Lister Park, 10.30am.

January 4: New Year games night with stew supper, Carlton House, 7.30pm.

January 5: Community Cuppa, Cake’ole, Bradford, 11am.

January 9: Film screening: The Favourite with soup lunch, Carlton House, 12noon.

January 11: Fish and chip supper with auction, Woodbottom Social Club, 7.30pm.

January 15: Creative Writing Group , Carlton House, 10am

January 18: Celebration of Winnie the Pooh with cottage pie supper, Carlton House, 7.30pm.

January 25: Burns Night with haggis or mince supper and entertainment from folk group Cadance, Woodbottom Social Club, 7.30pm.

January 26: Oddies Wanderers Walk, Peel Park, 10.30am.

January 30: Online update from Bradford Beck, 7.30pm.

January 31: Lunch Club, Carlton House with speaker John Mumford, 12noon.

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