Age UK state that over 1 million people aged 65+ in the UK are lonely, with this number growing, for many loneliness can define day to day life and have a significant impact on an individual’s wellbeing.
BFCitC’s award-winning Extra Time programme helps tackle issues such as loneliness and social isolation, as well as helping to increase participation in physical activity among the senior community.
The weekly social sessions, based Turf Moor, offer a friendly and welcoming environment and provide a range of activities for members of the local community, aged 50 and above, to get involved in. Alongside enjoying refreshments and the chance to meet new people the sessions include activities such as indoor carpet bowls, wellbeing pitch walks and board games.
One participant who has particularly benefitted from the programme is Tom. First attending the sessions around a year and a half ago, Tom initially wasn’t aware of Extra Time however heard about the sessions through word of mouth.
Living alone, attending Extra Time offers Tom the opportunity to, in his words, pass two hours in good company.
Tom said: “I enjoy coming to Extra Time, it’s a good laugh. There are plenty of activities to take part in and it feels like it cheers everybody up.”
“When I first started attending I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t stay for the full session. Then I met John, he now gives me a lift home after Extra Time every week.”
“The BFCitC staff and volunteers go out of their way, they bring you tea and biscuits and are really good to talk to.”
“I’ve lived alone since 1994, therefore I really enjoy the social aspect of Extra Time. I join the others to play dominos every week, it’s so good to see everyone, they are all cheerful, so it gives you a good feeling.”
Through his involvement with Extra Time, Tom has now also started volunteering daily at Burnley Community Kitchen. Recently opened in the heart of Burnley town centre, the BFCitC initiative is inclusive of a foodbank, a community café, a teaching kitchen and an internet café, with the long-term goal being to help lift users out of foodbank reliance by offering employment, financial and educational support.
Tom volunteers daily, helping out on the reception desk and greeting visitors. A role he himself has confirmed he would never have considered taking up prior to starting Extra Time. A keen artist, his artwork is also on show at the Community Kitchen, a fact he is immensely proud of.
“I really look forward to volunteering at the Community Kitchen. I can feel quite isolated in the flat and can get fed up so going to the kitchen and helping Anita and Nathan the Burnley FC in the Community staff is great.”
The changes in Tom since engaging with BFCitC has been significant, with staff noting his increase in confidence. He also now stays for the full duration of the two-hour Extra Time session and as a long-standing member is pivotal in welcoming new members and helping others to settle in.
Health and Wellbeing Officer, Charlotte Griffiths said: “Tom has come on leaps and bounds since getting involved with the charity and attending Extra Time. We are thrilled with how far he has come!”
BFCitC’s free Extra Time programme runs every Wednesday morning from 10am-12pm in the Jimmy McIlroy stand at Turf Moor. To find out more information contact Health and Wellbeing Officer, Charlotte Griffiths, on 01282 704716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.