Your chance to try something new

Published on: 07 Sep 2015

I’M so busy – I don’t know how I ever had time to go to work! Many of us will have heard these words from active retired people who seem to have boundless energy as well as minds agile enough to clean up at pub quizzes.
But not everyone has been able to launch into a fully occupied life of leisure in later years; financial constraints and caring responsibilities are just two of the barriers that a lot of folk face.
It can also be difficult, if you have been used to doing everything with a partner, to have the courage to take up new activities when you are left alone.
And, even if you are itching to get out of the house and meet people, how do you know what is on offer out there?
This is where Downend Connect can help. The first event, two years ago, organised by Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council and backed by Downend Voice, opened the eyes of scores of older residents to the activities they might pursue.
Dozens of people signed up to computer courses at Downend Library, enabling them to get to grips with desktop or laptop computers or tablets. Many of them have gone on to use these new skills to communicate with relatives via Skype or to do their shopping online.
Others joined a Knit and Natter group, also held at the library, which is a thriving regular Monday get-together and has also provided baby clothes for good causes and a colourful banner for Downend in Bloom.
Now another event is taking place this month, which will not only be a great social occasion, but will provide plenty of ideas of new activities to try.
Martyn Poole, the parish councillor who leads on services for older people – and is a prime example of an active senior citizen himself – said: “Older people deserve to have a special time in retirement – they have worked hard all their lives. We can’t take them off to exotic climes for holidays – but we can make their community a better place for them to live.
“Many organisations that already provide for older people will be on hand to give information and advice. We also want to hear from people about any activities they would like to try that are not yet on offer.
“For example, we have been approched by men in Downend asking if there are groups specifically for them. I admit I do not know, but I will find out, and if there is the need we will start some groups suitable for men.”
Members of existing groups are also invited to the event, so organisers can find out what actibe older people do with their time.

Among those taking part in the Downend Connect event are computer tutor Tim Ball and Sirona Care and Health, which works to help older people keep fit and healthy. There will also be details of the Discover festival, which offers a host of activities for people of all ages across South Gloucestershire every autumn.
Downend Connect takes place on September 15 from 2-5pm at the library.
Discover Festival details and What’s On: Page 44
Hanover Housing Association survey: Page 49

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