A little money goes a long way for Norwich social group
Copyright: Archant 2017
It is a lifeline for many older people who may otherwise spend more time alone.
And a charity grant has meant that St Augustine’s Afternoon Club, in Norwich, has been able to take its members further afield, treating them to two day trips a year.
Organiser Shirley Banester puts on the club every Thursday, after she took over from Rosemary Taylor in 2011.
“I agreed to take it on for six weeks,” she said. “And I’m still here six years later.”
Ms Banester now organises the weekly social event, where anyone aged from 55 to 100 can go along for a cup of tea, a biscuit and a catch up.
And she works in conjunction with a similar club at St Luke’s church to organise two trips a year - one in the summer and one in the winter.
“We usually take between 40 and 50 people,” she said. “We always go to the beach because some may never see the sea again if we don’t take them. Last year we went on Southwold Pier.”
One club member, Lynda Lewis, said: “It’s about us all being together as a community, enjoying some time and not shutting yourself in, which is so easy to do.”
She said her husband had gone to the club before he died in April, and she had appreciated the companionship of the group since, as he had been the one who could drive.
And after last year’s trip, she wrote a poem to express what it had meant to her.
It said: “Many thanks for the outing, this I want to say, meeting people and having a laugh and a meal along the way.
“It gave me a chance to get away from house and home for that day. I lost my husband a few weeks back, and now no car trips to relax.
“Memories I hold most dear, lovely days without a care.
“But life has changed as it has to be, that day out at Southwold meant such a lot to me.”
Phyllis Seaman, 87, and Edmond Pawton, 89, were the two members who had been coming to the club for the longest - with Mrs Seaman having been there from the start in 1988.
She said: “I think it’s very important because it brings people together, they see different sights and it’s a change of scenery. I like to put my feet in the sea, I always have a paddle on the trips.”
The £500 grant from comic Relief meant £250 could be put towards each trip, and contributed to hiring specially adapted coaches and keeping the cost down for members.
Ms Banester said otherwise, she feared people with mobility problems or little money would be put off from coming.
And she encouraged more people to come forward and join the club.
“The membership fee is £1 a week, and that includes all the refreshments,” she said. “I’m trying to recruit more members, all are welcome.”
• If you are interested in finding out more, call Ms Banester on 01603 766720.
• Deserving community groups shared almost £40,000 in charity cash last year, distributed by this newspaper in association with the Norfolk Community Foundation and Comic Relief – and this year we’ve teamed up again. If your group would benefit from a grant of up to £1,000, more details will be announced on March 24.