Case Study: Sue – Getting Together Clubs/Befriending
Four years ago, Sue found herself at her lowest ebb. She had raised her three children on her own whilst working two jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food in the cupboards. Sue was always active and considered herself a ‘people’s person’ but upon retiring and her children growing up and moving away, she found herself becoming a bit of a recluse. A resident of Watford for over 40 years, Sue lost three very close neighbours in the same year and with the sudden loss of her loyal loving dog Lucy of 16 years, Sue was heartbroken, low, isolated, and lonely. Even with the support of her family, she felt lonesome.
On a walk into Watford Town Centre one morning, Sue passed by a stand with a banner advertising W3RT Getting Together clubs. Sue admitted feeling low and alone to our staff and cried as she explained about recently losing her beloved dog. Our warm friendly team convinced her to attend a club. It was such a daunting experience for Sue walking into club for the first time. Her self-confidence was at an all-time low and she couldn’t even manage to sum up the courage to participate. She informed her daughter that evening that she didn’t feel brave enough to go back. Her daughter asked her to try it again and with a follow up call from our staff, Sue returned. She is so happy she did.
Since joining the Getting Together clubs four years ago Sue’s self confidence has flourised and she now participates in all types of activities including art and craft, chair-based exercise, as well going on trips and events that Getting Together provide. Sue has made lifelong friendships - offering each other trust and support. During lockdown these relationships were especially invaluable as Sue and her club friends kept in touch through regular phone calls making Sue feel ‘blessed, happy, loved and supported.’
As a participate in our Companion service during lockdown, Sue enjoyed being matched up with our wonderful volunteer Janice. Both Sue and Janice enjoyed countless wellbeing calls and made plans for when the world would open again to meet up. Upon restrictions lifting, Sue and Janice met for walks along the canals and parks. They enjoyed trips into Hemel Hampstead Old Town for afternoon tea with plenty of great conversations and fun along the way. Sue and Janice remain friends to this day.
Thoroughly enjoying her weekly club on a Friday at The Barn, Sue describes it as her ‘favorite day of the week.’ An independent lady now, she takes the bus to her club pointing out that ‘no bad weather stops me from missing out on seeing my friends.’ She likes reading the What’s on Guide and encourages her friends to join her in activities such as yoga and exercises. Sue relishes the speakers Getting Together provide who come in and talk to the members about their services. An avid learner she enjoys keeping up with what is going on in her community.
Sue has become more confident and is back to the ‘people’s person’ she always was. Staff approached her to become a rep for the club and Sue now assists and organises events and takes care of onboarding new members, ‘showing them the ropes to make sure they settle in comfortably.’ Sue feels she has come such a long way since joining our GT club. ‘I enjoyed so much seeing friends and making new ones and the activities we do have done wonders for my mental health and well-being.’ Sue spoke fondly about the time school children would visit the club once a month. ‘We got as much enjoyment spending time and doing fun activities with them as much as they did …. perhaps even more.’
‘Thanks to the Getting Together clubs, I have gained my confidence’ says Sue. ‘The friends I have made have given me so much joy and the staff at the club have given me such great support. Happiness is only real when it is shared.’
Case Study: Betty – Getting Together Clubs
My name is Betty and I’m 88 Years old and I live in Croxley Green.
I was born Fulham and my family and I moved to Bishops Stolford when the Second World War was declared. Because of this my friends nicknamed me “Betty Bishop.”
At the age of 20 I met and married my dear husband and we moved to South Harrow where I started working in an office as a bookkeeper which I really enjoyed. I made some very good friends, such as Jean who I would later bump into again.
My husband and I were married for 62 years before he passed away. I found this very hard emotionally and I suffered with depression and my confidence to get out and do things had gone.
I cried every day and felt very lonely. I moved to Croxley so I could be closer to my daughter for support and companionship. My physical health had started to fail. I started to go and see a bereavement councillor to see if this would help me, but it was friendly faces, new experiences, fun and laughter that I needed. I will always miss my husband. I became very withdrawn from people.
At this time of life all my old friends had since died, and the confidence to make new ones was hard. I was very nervous and needed to be brought out of my shell.
I joined the Welcome Club, which had been founded and built (physically) by the community in Croxley. I would go on a Monday to see the dancing and Saturday to play Bingo and Hoy (and a cheeky quiz or two) One day I couldn’t believe my eyes, across the hall was Jean. We both smiled and got talking.
Jean mentioned that a Thursday club had started in the British Legion Hall and I should come along. She said that there were lots of ladies and gentlemen from the local community. They did exercise which helped with their joints and arts and crafts. They were planning on a small trip out to Kew Gardens. Although I was nervous, Jean said that she would be there and would sit with me. I thought “Come on Betty”
The first day I was very nervous, but everyone was so friendly and the lovely lady and Gentleman who ran it made me feel right at home.
Before long I was looking forward to going to all of my clubs, especially the Thursday one. I wished all my week was made up of Thursdays because I enjoyed it so much. I could feel my confidence growing. The chair-based exercises were helping with my mental and physical health, and before long I didn’t need to go to see my councillor as much. Georgina the instructor for the chair-based exercise was wonderful and supportive.
I had made so many new friends and I was now going on trips with evenings out on the local community bus to the seaside. I looked forward to the activities that were brought in every week. I started to think how proud my Husband would be of me for getting out and about and my confidence started to grow.
During the pandemic I was worried that I wouldn’t see anyone, but Watford and Three Rivers Trust kindly arranged wellbeing calls for me so I could talk to someone each week. It made me feel that I wasn’t forgotten. Although I was very close to my daughter and son and they lived nearby, I also knew that if they couldn’t get my shopping or medication that I could call up Georgina or Jo at the wellbeing hub to have a lovely catch up and they could sort these out for me.
I was over the moon to get a call from Georgina to tell me that the clubs where re-opened. I was greeted with a smile when I arrive in and it was so lovely to catch up with everyone over a cup of tea.
The Clubs have given me so much confidence and I feel like I have got back to the old Betty.
I have even met and brought along new club members who have been through the same sadness and loss as myself. I met Mary, who lost her husband a week before. I encouraged her to come along to club and she is now an active member and comes along each week with my support.
Sadly before Christmas I lost my dear sister but with the support of my new friends, family and the club leaders I was able to work through my sadness. To all older people who are in fear of being on their own and want to try new things but don’t have the self-esteem or confidence I have this to say:
“The scariest thing is life is being on your own, don’t be on your own, take the first step and come along to a social club, you might even like it”
Case Study: M – Getting Together Clubs
M was born in 1940 in Paddington London. Her family home was in what would be classed as a slum area. She never attended school which gave her no opportunity then to read or write. In the 60’s her family were given a council house in South Oxhey. M started her married life in 1970. They brought a house on Whippendell Road, West Watford. Unfortunately, her marriage broke down and she remortgaged the house to buy her husband’s half of the house of which she still lives into this day. M has three children, one of who lives in America. M visits regularly. With all the changes in her life she felt very low and alone and in need of companionship. A friend knew how she was feeling and suggested that they both attend the knit and natter club round the corner from her house. This gave her the confidence to try other things and when she saw a flyer for the “Getting Together Clubs” she decided to try it out.
M started attending the Halsey club in 2018 along with a friend who she met at a Knit and Natter club in West Watford. She enjoyed the club so much that she told others about it at her Knit and Natter club. Subsequently these ladies started attending also with her. This group of ladies now also attend The Barn and are fondly known as the “Golden Girls”. Attending these clubs gave M purpose to get up get, showered and dressed which heightened her self-worth and boosted her self-esteem.
When lockdown hit, M really missed the clubs in particular Halsey. The clubs being closed she felt was detrimental to her wellbeing as she wasn’t getting out thus doing nothing in the daytime. Her general health deteriorated due to her aches and pains getting steadily worse. When we called M to explain that The Barn was ready to come back, she was delighted. Halsey Club was one of her favorites and she is so please that this has now been reopened and is looking forward to attend.
Case Study: J – Getting Together Clubs
I have 2 daughters, 1 local and 1 not quite so local. I have always been an independent, active, and sociable person and enjoyed getting out and about. I cared for my husband until he passed away in 2014. I tried to keep up with my social activities as much as I could. I have been going to a mother’s union group now for many years, this takes place twice a month at my local church. I have always enjoyed getting the bus into Watford or Hemel town centre to visit the department stores. I don’t drive so the bus has always been the easiest mode of transport for me.
At the start of the pandemic, I found myself getting very anxious about the virus. I was told by the government to stay at home. I did not really know why at this point, but I did as I was told. My daughter done my shopping for me whilst I sat around at home. During this time, I found I was getting more & more anxious, not understanding what I could or couldn’t do. I was losing more and more confidence with going out and with my walking. During this time, I felt me physical & mental health was deteriorating, I needed to keep myself moving to keep walking. After a few months I started to go for short walks around a local park, it was wonderful just to see grass & flowers again. I was still very anxious and didn’t want to be around lots of people. It was several months before I could see my Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. I was in a bubble with my daughter that doesn't live very local to me but did see her Occasionally for a walk. We were not allowed visitors where I live as it is independent living and there are many elderlies around.
After a while of staying home and a few walks in the park I decided to start doing my own shopping again from my local shops, it was lovely choosing my own food again, but I didn’t like it if the shop got to crowded.
As the country starting to open more, I would take the bus to visit a friend, I was always careful and wore my mask on the bus. I found it very strange the first time in a while that I took the bus as I forgot how to get the bus driver to stop at my required stop, this made me chuckle when I remembered all I had to do was to press the button. My fortnightly Mother Union church club slowly opened but Sundays at the church were to busy with lots of people, so I avoided the Sunday Service.
Many of my neighbours had previously mentioned a social club they used to attend in Abbots Langley Community centre and said how much they enjoyed going and they would hope someday soon it would re-open again. That day came, and as it was so local to me, I walked the short distance and took myself along knowing only a couple of people. I was welcomed by everyone and had a lovely afternoon; I was happy that it was Covid safe with temperatures being taken on entry and hand sanitizer to hand. The impact this lovely club has had on my life is amazing, it has cheered me up and given me a purpose to get up in the morning, it has also given me my confidence back for joining in with others and getting out and about walking again. Each week we are doing something different from exercise in our chairs to keep our bodies moving to quizzes/ trivia to keep our minds active. I have made some new friends and caught up with some old friends that also attend the group. Starting at this group made me realise how depressed I was becoming, thankfully I joined in at the perfect time. I am feeling much happier of late and feel any depression has lifted and I hope to continue to be as active as I can for as long as I can and keep attending this great club.
This was the postponed Christmas event for members of the community we engage with who would have spent Christmas alone. It was an Easter event due to the fact we had to postpone the Christmas event due to COVID cases rising in December, so we felt it was unsafe to continue. It was rescheduled for Thursday 14th April 2022. For this event we received funding Herts County Council and Camelot to ensure attendees could come for free and receive a gift. Staff wore PPE including visors for the event.
We hired The Barn (as this was the most central location for members) as our venue. We decorated the tables with plants, little chocolate eggs and chicks to brighten the room. We also hired an entertainer, originally this was a singer called Karen, however due to personal reasons they had to cancel. We were then able to book Malcolm who was a pianist and singer for 1.5 hours.
We provided lunch which was a variety platter including cold cuts, potato salad and quiche. We included a dessert; the clients had a choice of Victoria sponge or Chocolate fudge cake and fruit. There was plenty to go round and for future events looking at the required amount of food may be appropriate.
We also ensured each attendee received a gift which contained a puzzle book (Arrow words/Sudoku/Crosswords) with a small bag of easter eggs. We provided these at the end of the event as a going home present.
During our wellbeing calls throughout the pandemic the H&W team highlighted individuals that they had been speaking to that would be alone over Christmas. We ensured the same invitees were invited to the Easter event to ensure they received an enjoyable and social event they had been promised previously.
We originally invited 30 people. Sadly, one invitee passed away before the rescheduled event could take place. We then had four attendees cancel on the week of the event due to the personal circumstances, so we had 25 confirmed on Wednesday 13th. As wanted to ensure numbers we invited 5 people from our Halsey club. We then had 30 total but on the day we only had 27 attendees total. We were made aware that 2 people were unable to be collected from our mini bus driven by Derek.
At the event, we promoted our new GT Membership packages and the What’s On guide. We felt this was appropriate as these people were known to us to be socially isolated. We hope from following conversations some of these attendees will sign up. Digital Inclusion was also promoted to help individuals who weren’t comfortable using the technology at present.
We had some lovely feedback from two attendees:
“Thank you all for your hard work. We had a really enjoyable day from the time Derek picked us up. Nice friendly, helpful man. The meal was delicious, and you were all so chatty, friendly and helpful so thank you very much. The music was lovely as well. Thanks again for everything.”
Whilst others remarked on the day:
“It’s nice to put a name to faces”
“The food was spot on!”
“It was so nice to get out of the flat and meet people”
All said it had been “A lovely day”.
Whilst the H&W team said: How nice it was to meet people that you had built relationships with over the phone for the last two years.
On 16th June 2022 we held our Platinum Jubilee Celebration. We held this after the Jubilee weekend to ensure more people could attend as there were many community events happening in the Watford and Three Rivers area. We were incredibly thankful to receive extra funding from Herts County Council which increased our total budget for this event.
We wanted this to be a fun and friendly celebration bringing together our members from all local areas in celebration of The Queen. We had 11 members of staff working alongside 3 volunteers which meant we had a big enough team to ensure drinks were kept filled, food was served efficiently, and guests felt looked after.
We decorated the hall in Jubilee themed decorations, and painted Buckingham Palace as a feature on one of the large walls. We took inspiration from classic street party celebrations throughout the years and draped flags across the stage and hung bunting throughout.
Each table had a centre piece consisting of balloons, jubilee flags and a crown (which some attendees decided to wear!) We also brought a commemorative jubilee badge for everyone which included a small jubilee chocolate to mark the momentous occasion. This badge was also given to all the staff and volunteers who helped on the day.
Entertainment was a focus for us, so we hired four different performers. Brian who plays bagpipes, Victoria Sponge, Buddy Ash and The Rock Bottom Band. Guests were greeted with Brian who played bagpipes in the entrance for half an hour as we wanted the atmosphere to start the moment they walked in. Victoria Sponge was our brilliant host introducing all our acts and keeping the guests entertained. As our guests had lunch, we had the wonderful Buddy Ash perform, who sang songs from an array of genres and eras. Finally, The Rock Bottom Band performed 60s music which the attendees loved and even got some up dancing!
Mavis and Norman, freemasons of Watford, attended the event, and it was lovely to have them. They enjoyed some cod and chips alongside the attendees, had a dance and Norman very kindly came to the stage to give a small speech. Alongside the Queens celebration he mentioned some other local milestones including Watford FC at Vicarage Road and his 60-year wedding anniversary.
We ended the event with two songs led by Karen Bell and The Rock Bottom Band - A Land of Hope and Glory and then the National Anthem.
We received some brilliant feedback from members who spoke to staff, this included:
"You’ve all worked so hard, we have had a wonderful time! A party the queen would have loved"
"It’s so nice to be back at a Getting Together event with all my friends"
"It’s amazing how much work has gone into this"
“We can’t say thank you enough! Well done!”
“Thank you so much for organising a fabulous outing. I had a really great time, scrummy food and drink and great company. They are such a friendly bunch as are all you helpers. Thanks again.”
“Thank you all - staff, volunteers and entertainers for a smashing Jubilee Party. So much hard work, much appreciated!”
“Thank you all for a lovely day. We appreciate all the hard work and planning that goes into the organising all that you do for us.”
“I had a lovely time, thank you so much for all your hard work.”