Group goes from strength to strength

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WHILE some charities are being forced to consider reducing their services due to funding cuts, one Scarborough-based charity is offering more than ever.

Support For Carers provide clubs and activities for elderly or disabled people who are socially isolated in the Scarborough and Filey area, providing company for them and respite for their carers.

Regular activities include coffee clubs, chair exercise classes and Open House sessions, and the charity also runs a volunteer visitor programme. On top of that, it provides a sitter service for people with disabilities, allowing their carers to get to appointments.

One of the coffee clubs, the Cobble Club in Filey, has been running for more than four years, meeting every Monday between 10am and noon. When the Evening News visited, the atmosphere was upbeat and friendly.

Some – including volunteers – bounced a balloon around as they talked or got on with craft activities.

Eighty-eight-year-old Rene Crawford, who served as an anti-aircraft gunner in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, said she used to go to Scarborough before the Filey group started. She said: “I enjoy the company. I meet the same people every week and we play silly games. It’s nice to see anyone that’s been poorly back and getting better.

“We have quizzes, bingo and sing-songs, and people talk about the war and their memories. Today we’ve been talking about the difference between generations. We all talk about our own experiences.”

Ann Natschowny, activities co-ordinator for the Filey group, said everyone had different needs and interests, but the group had something to offer everyone. For example, some people with dementia say very little, but they can be helped to find their voice at the Cobble Club.

“We had one man who didn’t speak, but when we were discussing hobbies he said he did up old motor cars and he talked about it and brought in pictures.

“I think it’s really important that everyone gets something out of every session. We always have daily papers out, so people can read or chat, and we’re lucky to have a good group of volunteers.”

The charity now offers four coffee clubs every week, having just started a second Pebble Club in Scarborough. “At the moment, we can accommodate more people in all our clubs. And it’s their club, so everyone decides what they want to do.

“We try to make everyone welcome when they come in, and we encourage some to come with their carers. Some love coming out with their partners so they can do something nice together.”

Volunteer Denis Welch, of Filey, said he first went to the Cobble Club with his father-in-law, then his mother-in-law. “They enjoyed it, and it was a different sort of atmosphere compared with a lot of day centres. My mother-in-law was still there mentally, and she enjoyed the quizzes. We do a lot of things that use your brain, and when we do quizzes, we share things around.

“We did an activity recently where we asked about people’s ideal age, and the older ones all said the war years! With older people, everyone’s got a story.”

Assistant activities co-ordinator Anita Bielby said: “I think we offer a good service because we do something different every week, whether it’s team games, discussions, jokes or funnies. We always throw a balloon or something, because there’s a big range of abilities and it’s a friendship club, so it brings them together. They have a coffee, they see each other and they worry about each other when they’re not well.”

For Ms Natschowny, a former teacher, the group is also a good safety net because if a regular attender is missing from a session, they can find out where they are and if they are okay.

Clare Walters, who manages Support for Carers from its Londesborough Road base, said: “Social interaction with others, where people can talk and feel accepted and be understood is important in the life of older people. Social contact is a key element to good health and wellbeing.”

Although the organisation is supported and funded by North Yorkshire County Council and the local Primary Care Trust, it relies on its volunteers, and volunteers are always needed. For more information about the various services on offer or volunteering opportunities, contact Clare Walters on 364808.