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  I became very withdrawn from people.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”