Steve took early retirement from work, but wasn’t sure how he’d occupy his time. He’s been able to get involved in community activities that have helped him to stay active and make new friends.
“I live alone, so my options were to stay indoors on social media or get out and meet people. I chose to go out. I’m interested in people. I like to find out what their interests and hobbies are, and how I can help. Thankfully there was stuff happening at the local community centre. So I started attending some of the activities, and got involved with the residents’ association; helping out where I could, and supporting other residents to do things. We had some support from council workers but that was cut, and it was difficult to get other residents involved.
A friend was running the Monday night club, and Chapel Street Community Arts found some funding to do an art project celebrating local history. I opened up the centre for the workshops, and had a go at painting. It’s something I hadn’t done for a long time, and I really enjoyed it.
The photographers working on the project met weekly so I started attending those sessions, which turned out to be a great way to meet new people and go to places I probably wouldn’t go on my own. We’ve done more projects and exhibitions since then, one about the estate I’ve lived on all my life.
I helped to create the community mosaic that’s on display next to the school, and lots of people came together for the unveiling. The projects are good at that but there isn’t enough of them. It seems like there’s lots going on elsewhere but our estate is a bit like the forgotten estate. We need more community events where people can meet and get to know each other better. Social interaction is important. Social media has it’s uses but you can’t beat talking face to face.”