On arrival at Seachange, Ken often has a cup of tea and a catch up with the staff and volunteers. “I have built up quite a relationship with many of the staff and volunteers at Seachange. Their thoughtfulness is exemplary. It seems like a small thing, but it is a terribly important part of their work. I would feel quite isolated without it” he says.
On some days Ken may have lunch in the café run by social enterprise Launchpad, which offers adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to develop professional catering skills and get support to move towards employment. On another day he may get his hearing aid checked or have his feet seen to. Each week he also joins one of the chair-based exercise classes but it is the Talk Sport Men’s group that is his highlight.
“Seachange gives a focus, company and different conversations. Without it I think Ken would be very lonely.”
For wife Judy, these opportunities for Ken to get together with people for a chat and feel part of a group is the best thing about the Hub. “It gives a focus, company and different conversations.
Without it I think Ken would be very lonely. We are comparatively new to the area. I’m a golfer and play bridge but Ken can be a bit shy. Without it we would really struggle to find a way for him to go outside on his own. And he’s really quite self-sufficient so being able to do this is, have his own thing, is really important.”
Such is the impact that Judy has seen on Ken from Seachange that she has dedicated her own time to Seachange, to support others that may be lonely or isolated at home. She set up a craft club, which before the COVID-19 lockdown had over a dozen regulars. These include ladies in their 90’s that live alone as well as some suffering with mild dementia. The group get together every month to make things that others need, supporting each other along the way. This has included baby clothing for the neonatal unit at the local hospital and cloth shopping bags that are on sale at the Hub. The proceeds from which, hopefully reaching £2,000 when all are sold, are then donated to Seachange.
In recent years Ken could have become increasingly isolated and lonely, had little or no opportunity for physical activity and become increasingly dependent on wife Judy for full-time care.
By enabling Ken to continue with the physical activity he can - by walking to Seachange and taking chair-based exercise classes - Seachange has helped prevent further deterioration in Ken’s physical health, helped to maintain his independence and reduced his risk of falls.
This in turn has also helped his wife and carer, Judy, maintain her independence and keep up with her own activities like golf. This gives her respite and avoids her health and wellbeing being negatively affected by her caring responsibilities.
By giving Ken opportunities to feel part of a community – with the staff and volunteers, the Talk sport and exercise groups - the Seachange has prevented him from becoming lonely and isolated and helped maintain his mental wellbeing.
Judy is giving back to the Seachange community through her craft group and fundraising, and this opportunity to volunteer is positively impacting on her life.
“When you are here at Seachange, people care about your wellbeing and they want to help you. That includes the reception staff, the café, and the managers. It really does make a difference.”