11th December 2020

Members of our Friendship Club reunited this week after being separated nine months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Friendship Club, a social club for the over-70s, was sadly closed back in March due to the growing concern surrounding Covid-19, to help best protect vulnerable members.

With government guidelines advising older people to shield, our charity set up the ‘Better Together’ service, which made over 2,500 weekly phone calls to tackle loneliness.

However, recent guideline updates allowed our day centre to open its doors once again with safety measures in place, seeing members return to their beloved club and reunited with staff and members.

The new safety precautions did not phase members as they excitedly returned. They were greeted with festive decorations and jumpers, music, and delighted staff members. One member, Edwin, said: “It’s great to be back and see old friends. It’s just like before.”

Joyce, who hadn’t been out in months, felt cheated having missed celebrating her monumental 90th birthday at the club and admitted she had missed out on having a special cake that the club would always provide.

But it seemed being able to come back had made up for this when she described waking up that morning as excited like a child going to a tea party’. Fittingly, she even got a slice of cake too. She said: “The girls did brilliant keeping in touch with us. Coming back is like joining again, but I don’t care. I’d sit in the garden if I had to.

I’m happy to be back, this is the best day of the year. They’re doing a wonderful job and I feel quite comfortable. It’s different but I think it’s gone upmarket, it’s charming.”

It wasn’t just the members who found it to be an emotional moment, as staff were just as overjoyed to be reopening.

Kerry Joyce, Community Liaison Worker, said: It’s been an emotional day. We spoke to everybody for so long over the phone and to actually see everybody face-to-face, hear everyone talking and being together is absolutely amazing. As much as we do it for our members, it’s what we get out of it as well, so it’s really special to be a part of it.”

The club’s phased reopening will welcome members every Wednesday leading up until Christmas, with members able to attend a two-hour session, including tea, coffee and cake as well as a festive quiz.

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