This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. To mark this we spoke to older neighbour Lynne (69) and younger neighbour Jess (33) about the positive impact that being part of a community like Manchester Cares has on their mental wellbeing.
Lynne takes part in our group based social activities. She’s been attending for over three years, and loves coming along to lots of different things, from parties to pottery workshops. Lynne recently shared her thoughts on Manchester Cares and how the activities she’s attended and friendships she’s made have helped with her mental health. Lynne said ‘it’s great coming along to things…you’ll always be made to feel welcome by the staff and you meet new people, people who’ve maybe been through the same things as you, and also people who have been through different things.’
She highlighted that this ‘helps to build empathy’, and with our clubs being intergenerational it builds strength between different age groups; ‘younger people have so much going on, with the economy and housing markets and lots of pressure.’ She said ‘it’s nice because us older ones can listen and give support and advice…and we also get listened to in return.’ Lynne said that being part of the Manchester Cares community really helped her through a difficult time after her son died: ‘it provided a friendly safe space and it was nice knowing there were people there who cared.’ She said that if someone was going through a difficult time and feeling isolated, her advice would be to find community groups doing things you like ‘just get out and try things and meet people, see how it feels.’ Lynne said that being part of a community like ours has helped her build confidence.
Younger neighbour Jess is a regular attendee of our social clubs. She enjoys a good theatre trip, and came to lots of our virtual activities during the pandemic including Desert Island Discs and online discos. Jess said she comes along to Manchester Cares activities because they’re a ‘great way to meet new people, both of a similar age to me, and older neighbours.’ Jess acknowledged that being part of Manchester Cares’ community is positive because it helps prevent loneliness and isolation in the older community. Equally, she said ‘I really benefited from joining Manchester Cares when I was having some problems with my mental health and feeling quite lonely myself.’
Jess took part in lots of our online activities during the pandemic. Like many of our younger neighbours, she was working from home in the lockdowns. She told us ‘It was great that Virtual Social Clubs continued throughout the pandemic to keep me occupied and cheer me up in the evenings after work, when I couldn’t go out to do my normal activities.’ Jess said that being part of a community and ‘meeting new people’ can have a really positive impact on mental wellbeing. She also highlighted how ‘being able to do fun activities such as a picnic, theatre show or art trip keeps our minds engaged and helps us to learn new things,’ and that this in turn helps us to feel better connected.
If someone was wanting to look after their mental health and wellbeing Jess would recommend starting with ‘fresh air, keeping hydrated and not worrying too much about having a sweet treat every now and again.’
It can be really difficult to take the first steps to getting connected when you’re feeling isolated. As Lynne and Jess have demonstrated, getting out into a community, meeting new people and learning new things can have a really positive impact on your wellbeing, and on the wellbeing of the people you meet. If you want to take steps this week to start feeling more connected, you could:
Posted by Heather Madden on Thursday 12th May 2022
Heather is Manchester Cares' Programme Coordinator managing our Social Clubs programme.