A Woolton community group, run entirely by volunteers, is working to combat loneliness amongst the area’s elderly residents and people with special needs.
The group were decorating stars this week to hang on their Christmas trees at their weekly meeting in Linksview Community Centre.
Organiser, Janet Keefe, said: “Me and my husband Michael started the group called ‘Include Me’ which is a community interest group.
“We are tackling issues of isolation in our local community of Woolton.”
The ‘Include Me’ group come together and chat over a cup of tea in a bid to tackle a fast-growing issue in the community. Despite being common in later years, social isolation can strike at any age.
Having a group in place where local people can meet and form lasting friendships, is important to tackling this crisis.
The former tour operator said: “When we were abroad, my husband and I found that some people in our tour groups didn’t know anybody but wanted to be with other people otherwise they’d never get a holiday.
“We would hear some quite sad stories, maybe a partner had passed away, they’d had no children of their own or maybe their children had moved away, and we decided to do something about it for people at home who must feel the same.”
The group relies entirely on volunteers and donations to continue doing what it does in the Woolton community.
A small group of volunteers help Janet to run the afternoon club, serving refreshments and providing company to those in the group.
One volunteer, June Carr, said: “I volunteer here with my friend Linda. We started two years ago and we’ve been here ever since.
“I met Janet through church and when I found out she ran this group, I had to get involved. Janet is brilliant with the group and she’s got the patience of a saint.”
One group member, Irene Shaw, has made friends for life as a result of ‘Include Me’.
She said: “After I had just lost my husband I wanted a bit of company which is the reason why I joined the group.
Mrs. Shaw said that a few of the other women in the group regularly go out to town together shopping and are part of another breakfast club.
“The group really helped to boost my confidence in terms of socialising and, now, we’re all mixing with a lot of people.”
As well as making friends over various arts and crafts, the group take monthly outings, with their most recent visit to Norton Priory in Runcorn.
The group has received various high-profile visitors including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Roz Gladden, and Councillor Erica Kemp joined them for Christmas celebration last year.
The ‘Include Me’ group meets every Wednesday morning between 10am and noon at the Linksview Community Centre in Woolton.