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  • medwaydiversityforum

Reconnect Golden Buddies (2021)

Thanks to the Local Connections Fund from the National Lottery, Medway Diversity Forum delivered ‘Reconnect Golden Buddies’ (RGB) project from October – December 2021 with participants welcoming the opportunity to meet face to face for the first time after the lockdown.

The project involved Woodwork sessions for BAME elderly people and piloting a walking group to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of this ‘often forgotten’ cohort of people.

“Thanks, National Lottery Community Fund. The timing of the project was perfect because many of us have been affected by redundancies, long Covid, and coping with bereavement in our family. I did not think I had a creative streak. I have made new friends now and, in fact, joined the Badminton classes started by Medway Diversity Forum. Superbly managed project."

An inclusive, multi-racial and a remarkably successful project, attended by 40 people, aged 55+ from various ethnicities, some adults with long-term mental health conditions, resulted in:

  • Establishment of a peer support group

  • The joy of discovering talents and skills people thought they did not have before

  • Reducing isolation by 70% by supporting residents to attend regular community activities, providing vital companionship and improved access to support services

  • Improving physical and mental health by 75% by building self-esteem and confidence to undertake new activities especially for those who are suffering from a sense of disconnection, loss of relevance, job loss due to the pandemic, and do not engage in mainstream provisions

  • Informing health providers about the gaps in their provisions and building a platform for future projects

  • 95% reporting the activities being relaxing, creative, enjoyable, therapeutic, affordable and no language/ digital requirement and wanting to continue

  • Removing barriers to engagement, i.e., transport, language, digital, and participating in activities organised by people they trust and feel safe with

  • Increase in energy and improved bone health by 65% of the people

  • Recruiting 3 new volunteers who helped with setting and clearing up, had conversations with those who are feeling isolated and anxious, and provided a helping hand to the participants. They volunteered to do car share helping those with transport issues

  • The beneficiaries ‘owning’ this project by being part of the planning, delivery, and evaluation

“I had taken an early retirement in June 2021, from a high-power job, due to stress and work pressure, and since then, have been suffering from depression, anxiety and loss of purpose. After working for a big multi-national for 35+ years, I wanted to give back to the community and leave a legacy. When the opportunity to take part in Reconnect Golden Buddies project came up, I jumped at the idea. I used to look forward to the woodwork sessions every Saturday because I felt excited, motivated, useful and valued by being consulted about the ‘how, what and why’ of the project."

The change that was made in this project was to replace the walking group after 3 sessions to 5 sessions of indoor Badminton classes, because of the cold weather. People were comfortable doing a sport indoor at a venue (King’s Rochester Sports Centre) where safety measures, like, temperature check, track and trace, and social distancing, were carried out.

“Thanks Medway Diversity Forum & the National Lottery for motivating me to take action to improve my health and wellbeing. MDF arranging carpool, flexible timing of the sessions and making it affordable gave me the impetus. The project has given me the confidence to take part in other activities, like, swimming, Badminton and art & craft."


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