The group provides a safe environment for individuals to meet, create new friendships and learn new skills. Smile a While is also the only group in the area that provides transport to and from the activities, which many members rely on. Without it, they would not be able to attend.
Recent funding from the Tween Bridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund of £3,840 has supported transport costs for the group so they can continue their work. An estimated 25 to 30 people attend their twice weekly sessions. Those that attend report feeling happier, more confident and active and that they have made new friendships.
Health screenings, educational talks and the opportunity to learn new skills such as sewing, arts and crafts and much more is offered by the group. These activities are done to help keep the mind busy and maintain physical dexterity in participants.
Smile a While’s success has enabled it to open a second group which is just as well attended and is made up of a tight-knit friendship group.
Keeping their transport resource available for attendees is essential for many who suffer from mobility issues. It also helps motivate those that have become socially isolated to join in much more easily.
Group organiser, Linda Matthews said:
“Many of the people who come to the group have been widowed or have had family move away and our group provides a pleasant environment for them to feel valued and safe in.
“We know that there is an essential need for this group and the transport we provide in this area. Without it many are just stuck within four walls with their carer or by themselves all day.”
In the future, the organisers aim to recruit more volunteers to help run the two current groups with the long term goal of starting another in a different area.