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BeConnected members join in lottery celebrations

An award-winning project that’s helping tackle loneliness and isolation in communities across Stafford has been joining in recent celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the first National Lottery draw.

Managed by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) – a proud member of Housing Plus Group – BeConnected is one of thousands of worthy causes to benefit from The National Lottery Community Fund and last year received a grant of nearly £60,000 to continue its good work.

To show their gratitude, BeConnected members joined in the birthday celebrations at a special event in Stafford where they welcomed representatives from The National Lottery Community Fund and other local groups benefitting from its support.

Kathy Jones, Operational director of housing for Housing Plus Group, explained: “In 2019 BeConnected staged more than 80 events and, with around 360 members, it’s proving a huge success.

“This would not be possible without the fantastic support from The National Lottery Community Fund and we were delighted to host one of many events across the county celebrating this landmark anniversary.”

“It’s also a pleasure to attend any BeConnected event and I’ve always been struck by the friendliness and warm welcome from those taking part and the volunteers who have also made a huge contribution to the project’s popularity.”

BeConnected includes a programme of fun and free activities including arts, crafts, gardening and exercise classes at easy to access venues across the Borough.

It aims to help older people, who are feeling lonely or are socially isolated, to make new friends, to get out and about and help prevent the physical and psychological health risks associated with loneliness.

Alongside around 45 BeConnected members and volunteers, representatives from a number of local organisations to benefit from The National Lottery Community Fund also attended the birthday party.

Groups and projects represented at the event included Stafford Social Hub, Colanley Gardens and Make Some Noise – charities that also work with a range of activities for the elderly and vulnerable.

During the afternoon at St Bertelin’s Church Hall, Stafford, they all appreciated live music and dancing while enjoying each other’s company and meeting up with friends old and new.

BeConnected member and volunteer, 68-year-old Ron, said: “Events like this are fantastic and, as we get older, my wife and I know we’ll be surrounded by friends and be able to maintain a busy social life.”

A regular bingo caller at BeConnected events, Ron also helps to serve up refreshments and says he gets a lot out of taking part.

“Whether you are a volunteer or a member, BeConnected offers a great way to get out and about and remain an active member of the community,” he added