Ros Ronaldson drops a line about this friendly group . . .
Our group is called Allen Valleys Get Together and we’ve been established since May 2017.
It all came about because I was finding it a little difficult when I retired and I realised that there must be lots of other people feeling the same. I mentioned this to Georgie Cruddas and we decided to ask a couple of other people to chat this through and see if we could come up with an idea to help alleviate loneliness and isolation. We got together with Elizabeth Beardsley and Elaine Burberry and had a few meetings to work out a plan: finding a venue, making flyers/posters, buying crockery, kettle and refreshments and deciding on a format.
We started out in May at the library, as this venue was free of charge. The first week we had only one person but week by week the numbers increased. We eventually became too large a group for the library and needed a more private venue. We now meet in St. Cuthbert’s Church Hall every Tuesday 2.30 – 4.30 and anyone is welcome regardless of age, gender etc. We do not charge for refreshments, however we do have a contributions jar if anyone wishes to donate.
We rely on donations from other organisations to enable us to pay the hall rent and are always very grateful for any funding given — most recently the Allendale Lions Club kindly paid the hall rent for the next six months, while the Allendale Co-op and the Farmers’ Ball have also made much-appreciated donations. We are not a church-led group and we do not have alliances with any other organisation.
Our main aims are to help support each other and to offer friendship to anyone who, for any reason, may enjoy companionship or wishes to engage in conversation. We now have approximately 25 people who get together at some time during the year and a regular gathering of 12-18 every week. People dip in and out when they need to and this is just fine. We go out for coffee once a month on a Saturday morning, have an annual Christmas meal out and have the occasional talk/quiz/game.
The feedback we get from the group has always been positive and I know that for some it’s the only ‘afternoon out’ they have. We enjoy each other’s company and usually have a good laugh but also support each other in times of need.
Ros has sent along a photograph of the church hall all set out in readiness for the friendly group to meet. Even with the snowy weather today, she writes, 12 folks came out this afternoon to enjoy each other’s company, of which 2 were new attendees. I told her that I thought it felt very ‘Canadian’ to insist on holding the weekly meetings regardless of the weather! Good luck to this intrepid group who are making real inroads in reducing social isolation here in the Allen Valleys.