"Learning more in later life"
Research has shown that around 10% of older people over 65 are chronically lonely in the UK. That’s over 800,000 people in England who are lonely all or most of the time. (Campaign to End Loneliness)
It’s no easy task making the first steps to getting out and about from the comfort blanket of home, however, the rewards are evidently huge. Chatting with Doreen in North Bristol, it is clear to see the various benefits engagement in local community activities has had on her life ‘ At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it…I just said I’d be alright in the house, but [my daughter] said no, I had to get involved in something. That was it. She did bring me up to several of the activities and I really did enjoy them….I enjoy it all and I’ve made a lot of friends. Got to know a lot of people and it’s been great’
Doreen never thought she would be learning more in later life. She’s been Gardening, Cooking, Curling, created all sorts of fantastic things at Arts & Crafts and even popped along to the Belly Dancing! ‘I’ve learnt a hell of a lot… I didn’t think I’d be able to do it….I thought I’d want to go home and just sit in the chair…I think it’s just a great occupation to just come out and enjoy’
Life before Linkage was very different for Doreen ‘I hadn’t been out when [my husband] died. I didn’t hardly go out….That’s about the only thing I’d used to do is go out for a meal…then of course when [my daughter] got in with LinkAge and that…she started bringing me up to all the classes and that…I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but I did. Especially craft class. I enjoy that’
It is clear to see not only Doreen’s change in perspective on life but the impact it has had on her health ‘… it makes you feel…you feel happier in yourself, instead of getting very fed up and depressed. To sit in the house all day and just do like bits and pieces and that, it’s not for me. I like to be out…The people I’ve met and the people I’ve chat to and that now, it’s surprising.’
When I asked Doreen for her advice to someone thinking of joining LinkAge activities she replied ‘I would say it’s the best thing they could do. You get to meet people and you get to have a good laugh and it brightens up the rest of your day…I would recommend LinkAge to anyone’
NB: Names have been changed