Community is critical to our overall wellbeing. But many of us are seeing a decline in connectedness and kinship as our friendship circle becomes more distant or diminished.
Friendships evolve as life does, hampered by commitments and diaries that don’t align. But a lack of social interaction has led to a quarter of adults in the UK feeling lonely which can be damaging to our physical and mental health, wellbeing, relationships and employment.
How do you make friends or social connections as an adult? It’s not as easy as when you’re a child in the playground, asking other kids to play with you without nerves or fear of rejection.
In a bid to rekindle a community where social connections can thrive, a group in Rawmarsh are looking at various ways loneliness and social isolation can be identified and reduced.
S62 Community Together Rotherham launched last year to give residents a sense of belonging to their community.
The group is the brainchild of old acquaintances and busy parents, Luke Brailsford, Sarah Farnsworth Rodgers and Nikki Cartlidge, who wanted to start a group to resurrect the feeling of community and connectedness in the area.
Since launching last September, they have since become a constituted group with a committee of six volunteers from the Rawmarsh area with varying backgrounds – from working in education, public services or banking.
Their aim is to provide a safe and inclusive space for community engagement and they hold weekly and monthly sessions at the Drop-In Centre on Harding Avenue. While based in Rawmarsh, you don’t need to have an S62 postcode to join – the sessions are open to anyone living in Rotherham borough.
All sessions are free to access, reducing financial barriers that only isolates people further. This is thanks in part to community fundraising and the group having been awarded £4,850 in lottery funding which will pay for venue hire and service provision for the next year.
Whether you want to make new friends, feel less isolated, or improve your mental health, S62 Community Together Rotherham has a group for you.
Each Monday they hold a men’s mental health group at 7.30pm where current members range in age from 16-year-old school leavers right up to men in their 80s. The weekly session gives men who might be struggling with their mental health the chance to talk to others going through similar storms and feel like they aren’t alone.
The men’s group has also recently set up a recreational football session on the first Saturday of the month for a friendly kick about down at Parkgate Astro, funded by the team at MINDfest in the Community.
Compared to men, women are generally much better at talking about their feelings. But one thing they aren’t as good at is making time for themselves. Each Thursday at 7.30pm there is a women supporting women group where ladies can try new crafts, have a chance to chat, and have some time away from commitments at home. The group has flourished into a support network of middle-aged women, but they would like to attract more ladies in their 20s and 30s who may be in need of a bit of self-care.
There is also a monthly coffee morning on the third Saturday of the month from 10am till 12pm where families and individuals can come along and build on those social connections.
They have also recently started a walking group around Greasbrough which is every Tuesday afternoon starting at 12pm.
Demand for their services is high, with referrals from GPs and primary care networks coming through regularly. Funding allowing, they have plans to launch a youth club and parent and baby club later in the year.
Long-term, the group would like to become a community interest company (CIC) to enable volunteers to become paid employees to dedicate more time. In turn, they hope to open their own premises to run everything from, allowing them to offer more services in the daytime.