Sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan…
When Cyrenians Volunteer Coordinator Dave Boyd set up a social afternoon a year ago for elderly residents at Viewpoint Housing in Edinburgh to help combat social isolation, he didn’t anticipate the work he’d have to do to convince residents to participate.
The Lottery funded group is one of Cyrenians Golden Years projects to help combat social isolation, meeting every two weeks in the communal kitchen of the sheltered housing complex to bring people together to improve their health and wellbeing.
At the beginning attendance was poor, but Dave persevered and gradually, through word of mouth, people began to trickle in.
Pat, 79, moved into the complex 23 years ago and has been a regular attendee of the group. “It took a long time to get people used to the idea. They’re stubborn so I’d go to people’s doors and remind them. At first, they didn’t want to go if no-one else was going but then they started coming along.” Pat explained.
Dave organises activities to coincide with the gatherings including gentle exercise classes, arts and crafts and reminiscence sessions and now the group is well attended both by regulars and others who drop in when they can. Everyone enjoys getting together each fortnight to do something different and have a laugh.
This week Dave arrived with a card and an M&S white chocolate and strawberry cake to celebrate a residents’ 93rd birthday but sadly she had been taken into hospital. Cyrenians Cook Club Coordinator Amanda Somerville came with berries, cream and ingredients to make microwave meringues – a culinary experiment intended to circumvent the drawbacks of the communal cooker.
Irene, 75, rose to the occasion and began beating the mixture with an expert hand. “I used to bake a lot of cakes,” said Irene, soon transforming the gooey concoction into stiff whorls and holding the mixing bowl above her head to prove the point.
Meanwhile, everyone chatted and enjoyed the cake and a cup of tea so that when the microwaved meringues appeared on the table it didn’t matter that the experiment hadn’t turned out quite as intended!
Golden Years is generously funded by Big Lottery amongst other contributors and provides social groups, befriending opportunities and support to elderly people at risk of social isolation and loneliness. Find out more about our Golden Years service.