St Paul’s Learning Centre was a hive of activity when it opened its doors to people over the age of 55 at a community health and wellbeing event.
The event aimed to provide information and advice about being fit and healthy to older people, with presentations about diabetes, dementia and prostate cancer. It was also a social occasion and a chance for people to interact and make new friends.
The event was organised by the team behind Sammy’s Pop up Club – a social club for over 50s based in St Paul’s. The group meets every Wednesday to socialise, play board games, table tennis, curling and undertake gentle exercise, as well as getting information about how to stay healthy and active. Founder Elaine Roberts set the group up to combat isolation, as she feels her generation is often forgotten about.
“Myself, and a lot of the people here, are on their own,” Elaine says. “It’s difficult to go out for a meal on your own. I’m a very social person so that’s why I set up Sammy’s Pop Up Club, which has been running for three years. It’s very social and we do lots of fun things like evening meals, nights out and we even went to Ascot races. We want to promote healthy living, but also getting people together and having fun.
“A day like today is promoting healthy eating and healthy living. It’s not just about awareness, but understanding, and in that way we can improve our health and mental wellbeing.”
The day was packed full of fun activities that participants could try out, including arts and crafts, table tennis, curling, drumming and even an exercise bike linked up to a smoothie machine to create healthy drinks.
Funding for the event came from Healthwatch Bristol, an organisation allowing people to have their say about health and social care services across Bristol, and which has in previous years offered funding to community groups working to improve health and wellbeing. “One of our big themes for Healthwatch this year is emotional wellbeing and healthcare, particularly for people over the age of 55,” said Healthwatch Bristol manager Sarah Ambe. “So events like this are perfect, as it gives older people a break and help keeps the mind and body active.
“It can also help to take the pressure of the NHS. People can get information and advice without going to see their GP.”
Sayten Gadher, 56, travelled from Bath to attend the event. “I am struggling with looking after my elderly father, and this has led to my own problems with my health. I came here today to get some advice about my health and to reduce stress. It also helps meeting people in the same situation. It can be quite isolating as an older person, so it’s great to be able to socialise here and relax. It’s very healing for me, I will definitely come back to an event like this.”
It was a sentiment that was echoed by all who attended the day, and with such a success under her belt, Elaine says that this certainly wont be the last large-scale event she puts on with Sammy’s Pop-Up Club. “We have plans for more days like this, and not just for St Paul’s,” she said. “We’re willing to travel!”