You've Got A Friend Community Group
We are a voluntary non-profit community group in Cheadle Hulme who host monthly social events for elderly, vulnerable & socially isolated community members.
Where it all began...
You've Got A Friend Community Group started out as an idea for Christmas lunch for some local elderly and vulnerable residents of Cheadle Hulme in Greater Manchester. After caring for my nana before she died and seeing an interview on the tv with an elderly gentleman relying on his weekly visit to a social group for company, I felt there was more we could do to support our own community. I approached the club I teach my fitness classes at and they agreed to host a free pre-Christmas dinner and my incredible class members offered to donate where they could to help make this happen. We flyered the area and anticipated 20 or so would want to join us. We had a response from more than 200 people and ended up holding two events to be able to cater for everyone!
We were able to serve them a three course Christmas dinner with entertainment from a local school choir and singer - all made possible by very generous and kind people. It was at this moment we realised the level of loneliness and need for friendship was more than we knew and so decided to make our Christmas lunch a monthly social event!
Our New Friends
Following the success of our Christmas lunches, we launched our community group. A team of four of us organised each event along with the support of some truly wonderful volunteers - giving up time to talk to our group members and make new friends. We provided entertainment each month that got everyone involved, free lunch and transport if required. We had no less than 80 community members attend each event and our group became very special to us so quickly.
We held quizzes, afternoon tea, had themed dancers and singers perform, an outdoor BBQ and even our own afternoon at the Proms! We really got to know our group members, their stories and families and each month we celebrated their birthdays too! (Who doesn't love a goody bag and birthday cake!)
Sadly, our last community group ran in February 2020 and because of COVID-19, we had to indefinitely cancel our monthly lunches. Having built valued friendships with these people, our volunteers have kept in touch with members of the group - between us we made sure everyone had someone to call and touch base with. We had to make sure they didn't feel like we had just forgotten about them, knowing how much having something on the calendar to look forward to meant.
My husband and I began weekly food shops for many of the members who didn't have local family or neighbours that could help and along with the other volunteers, I have kept in touch with group members over the last year to make sure they were doing okay.
We really do hope that once the country is a safer place to be in, that we will be able to start running our monthly lunches again and when we can, I think we'll be kicking off with a huge party and lots of hugs!
If you would like to see more from our community group, you can visit our Facebook page: You've Got A Friend Community Group.