Join In Local Life (JILL)

Often in a bustling community, isolation can be missed. People are so busy with their own lives that they forget that others may not also have a supportive network of friends and family. It is easier to miss also when individuals feel as though they don’t fit in within their community and so struggle to interact with those around them. This is where JILL comes in.

Join In Local Life is a group set up to combat social isolation and loneliness through funding a variety of different social groups across Thorne and Moorends with their main location in Thorne library. From children’s activities to reading groups, JILL has catered for a wide range of participants, bringing together like-minded people from across the community.

Starting out in September 2017, JILL has grown and evolved to be whatever its community needs. With around 10 participants on average in each group and with the art group peaking at 20, JILL is a thriving community asset.

In the past, JILL has provided mother and baby classes which have peaked at 50 participants across 5 groups. These classes were founded to create relationships and support networks across the community. Many women felt as though they were alone in their communities once they became mothers and turned to JILL for support. With such a positive reaction to the mother and baby classes, the JILL network spread. They now host reading, art and family history groups alongside family and children’s activities.

Funding of £3,051 from the Tween Bridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund has provided the much-needed support to ensure that this full range of activities can continue as well as to contribute towards running new groups.
Many of the participants who attend groups run by JILL struggle to leave the house due to lack of confidence and a lack of a social network.

Chair of JILL, Eileen Silvester said:

“There’s one woman in the village who has lived here for years but has never left the house and doesn’t socialise so she doesn’t really have any friends. She started coming to our art group and she said that it has changed her life! She now socialises outside the group and has lots of friends. It’s great to know that JILL was responsible for that.”

Another JILL success story, Eileen recalls the change of a man who attends the family history group:

“He’s been with us since the first week and was quiet at the start. He told me he couldn’t read or write and I knew It was going to be a challenge but he really wanted to know what occupations his ancestors did.

“I did his family research for him and made a tree in picture format so he could understand it better. He was able to copy some words I had prepared for him and I also printed out pictures of the various occupations his family had.

“Over the weeks his confidence grew and he asked more questions about his family. I told him stories about them and he has been able to take this information home and share it with his children who he doesn’t see very often. It’s given him something new to talk to them about.

“He bought himself a file to keep his paperwork in and looks very proud carrying it into class. He’s shown the class his work and gets a round of applause when he writes out some family names. He even had a go at typing some names on the computer one fingered but did it and again showed it to the class.

“One of the best things is seeing his confidence grow. He’s 68 years old and the system, for whatever reason, has failed him but to see him starting to write and read the odd word is great. He’s now joined the local library and has a library card which he is proud of. He takes out spoken word and is finding what types of stories he likes.

“Courses like this provided by JILL are so valuable to people like this gentleman and I am so pleased he had the confidence to come to class that first day and admit he had difficulties, he has never looked back.”

With the range of groups that JILL provides, there is something for everyone in the community. JILL would like to expand the groups that they have on offer. With the main focus on socialising, they would like to begin groups that focus on activities such as board games. These sort of groups would be more likely to appeal to the older generations in the community but there would be no age limits which allows for intergenerational interaction.

Overall, it can be said that the benefits of JILL are infinite. An organisation that caters for all age groups with a variety of activities. A group that lets their members have an input on the events they organise and a group that lets different generations socialise between themselves. Without JILL, many members of the community in Thorne and Moorends would feel isolated and some would still be afraid of leaving the house. Inclusive, hard-working and supportive, every community should have a JILL!