Vol­un­teers bring peo­ple to­gether

You’re never too old to make a real dif­fer­ence to your com­mu­nity

Macclesfield Express - - YOUR PICTURES -

●● IN the sec­ond part of a se­ries look­ing at what it’s like to grow older in Manch­ester, the role of com­mu­nity groups is ex­am­ined. NEW Mos­ton res­i­dent Bren Fawcett, 62, has been vol­un­teer­ing with com­mu­nity group NEPHRA for more than a decade – pro­vid­ing older peo­ple with a host of so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties and sup­port.

NEPHRA, whose name orig­i­nates from the ini­tials of some of the streets it rep­re­sents, grew out of com­mu­nity ac­tiv­ity to cre­ate a life­line for older peo­ple.

Bren said: “It all be­gan 12 years ago.

“I had just moved to New Mos­ton and a neigh­bour knocked on my door and asked if I’d like to help clear some derelict land.

“Af­ter com­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity we de­cided to see what else we could do to help the neigh­bour­hood.

“At that first meet­ing the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who turned up were older res­i­dents – I didn’t know at the time but New Mos­ton has one of the high­est pro­por­tion of older peo­ple in the city – and over­whelm­ingly they were ask­ing for more things to do lo­cally.

“So that’s what we set out to help with.

“Since then NEPHRA has gone from strength to strength and has brought count­less older res­i­dents to­gether to help tackle lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion – which is one of the most se­ri­ous prob­lems older peo­ple face.

“NEPHRA’s lun­cheon club now feeds more than 50 peo­ple a week with fruit and veg grown by our vol­un­teers on our al­lot­ment.

“It’s a great so­cial oc­ca­sion and has led to many strong friend­ships – mean­ing peo­ple help each other out where they can.

“Equally im­por­tant is our be­friend­ing pro­gramme where we visit res­i­dents who strug­gle to get out and about.

“Sim­ply drop­ping by to en­joy a cuppa, and maybe some cake, can make a real dif­fer­ence to some­one on their own.

“Of­ten af­ter that we find that the older res­i­dents are well enough to come and en­joy some of our other ac­tiv­i­ties, like the Sun­day film club.

“It’s not all sit­ting about though, we also run a pop­u­lar IT course help­ing the less tech­ni­cally-savvy learn how to use iPads and re­search things like fam­ily his­tory.

“We run a choir, craft ses­sions and even Ger­man lessons – there’s some­thing for every­one.

“Our knit­ting and nat­ter ses­sions have also proved pop­u­lar and have even brought in young­sters keen to learn skills from the older gen­er­a­tion.

“We are all liv­ing longer and I think groups like ours prove that you’re never too old to en­joy your­self.

“Yes, some peo­ple need sup­port get­ting out – but that’s not to say they don’t want to have fun.

“Our group is run by vol­un­teers, the el­dest of whom are in their 90s, which goes to show you can make a dif­fer­ence and be part of the lo­cal com­mu­nity in Manch­ester, no mat­ter what your age.

“I’d urge more peo­ple to do the same across our city and work to­wards mak­ing it even more agefriendly.”

●● Mos­ton Lane

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