Trawden community group bringing people together

This small community centre is bringing the older generation together and combatting mental health with a “Friendship Group”.

Trawden Community Centre

Steve Wilcock, organiser and founder of the “Friendship Group” said: “I started this group nine years ago after the county council said they were going to close the building and when we first opened only twelve people turned up now we have 50-60 people every time.”

The Trawden Forest Community Centre is run by a committee of trustees made up of volunteers from the local community. It is entirely self-funded, covering running costs through user fees supplemented by fundraising.

Members of the elderly community meet every two weeks for a meal, chat and entertainment. It gives the community a social scene and a good excuse to meet new people and fight back against mental and physical health issues that often effect the older generation.

Because of its devastating consequences, late life depression is an important public health problem. It is associated with increased risk of morbidity, increased risk of suicide, decreased physical, cognitive and social functioning, and greater self-neglect, all of which are in turn associated with increased mortality, groups like the “Friendship Group” can help to combat all these issues.

Trawden offers a really unique sense of community, in a fight to keep the community alive the residents of Trawden came together to buy the local pub, community centre and library and organisations like the “Friendship Group” really display that sense of community spirit.

Members of the “Friendship Group” getting their lunch.

The members of the group, offer a voluntary donation every time they come to the community centre. Trawden is centred around this community system with volunteers and donations being key to the survival of these groups.

Originally, the community centre offered tea and a biscuit when the group was first established. However, due to the community donations and self-funding from the centre, they now offer a two-course meal to the people who turn up at the centre.

Rob Boocock, a volunteer at the community centre said: “I started volunteering after I retired and what I’ve found is that I now know more people in the village in the area than I did. I think there is a strong community spirit, it’s not just volunteering it’s also like a social scene.”

Rob works whenever he can to help out the community centre and he believes that “some people’s social life impinges on this group”. A study done by the National Library of Medicine found that the defining attributes of elderly people’s social participation included emphasis on community-based activities and interpersonal interactions, based on resource sharing, active participation and individual satisfaction.

Social groups like these are hard to come by but the unique sense of community offered by the people of Trawden means it’s hardly surprising that a group like this would be available for those who may be suffering the most.

One of the volunteers serving lunch for the day.

The group often hosts speakers and other entertainment events to bring some joy to the live of the older community in Trawden. Yesterday, the centre held host to a support dog to help members of the group who suffer with mental and physical issues to forget about their troubles and brighten their day.

Steve also stated that: “The friendship group is the thing I’m most proud of.” After working in the Trawden community for many years his passion project became the “Friendship Group”. In 2014 the centre was run by Age UK and in October of that year it held its’ last meeting.

Steve saw this as an opportunity and took up the challenge to bring the community centre to light and improve the quality of the meetings held. He said: “People enjoyed that it was in a less formal setting, you know, just having tea and a biscuit in a social setting.”

Volunteers queuing up to get their lunch after a busy day.