Previously called ‘Active Living’, The Friendship Centre is a fortnightly group that runs at Alcombe Methodist Church on a Wednesday.
At 10:45/11am we meet for tea, coffee and a chat (with lots of biscuits, of course!) and then all join together for a presentation, performance or activity. These are always tailored to the abilities of the group and we have a really relaxed atmosphere – if people would prefer to natter and have a cuppa whilst the rest take part, that’s totally fine too! We then share in a freshly cooked, homemade two-course meal and everyone then heads on home around 2pm. Thanks to the kind help of the Circuit and Alcombe, we also offer our members who live in the local area, but cannot drive, the use of a mini-bus or taxi, free of charge. Each time we meet, if it coincides with release of this magazine, the members take copies home so they know about other activities in the area and can learn about the life of our Circuit.
Over the years since I took on the role of running this group, it has changed so much and, perhaps since the isolation felt by many during lockdown, we have really expanded our numbers! We have a membership now of 28 people ‘on the books’ and normally have around 20 members each time we meet. There is also a growing number of people who are interested in signing up.
We have had an amazing array or activities and presentations including:
Dance recital; harp playing; woodland wreath making; visit from a Guide Dog puppy in training; we have learnt basic sign language; made origami birds; had quiz sessions (nothing too taxing!); a Beetle Drive; perfume scenting; we have crafted little woodland fairy doors; had live ukulele music – and even composed a song together; we have had presentations on the history of technology; a visit from the PCSO team about personal safety and avoiding scams and we all got given personal alarms and anti-pick pocket devices; we have done cake decorating and flower arranging; we had a red, white and blue Coronation Party and live singers, pianists and visits from the rescue team at Secret World.
We are also looking forward to acrylic flower making; a visit from a local firm about making wills and legal advice; we have also helped with technology issues with mobiles and laptops and we’re going to have a summer party too!
As our membership has grown, we have also taken on 2 new volunteers (as without the right number of people on site, we cannot offer more places to people) and we are also advertising for another cook so that we can begin to run weekly as the need is there.
The wonderful thing about this group is that it offers a space for laughter and friendship when some feel that there is not a lot out there for them. Everyone in the group has a good time and when a member is unwell, the feeling of everyone rallying to check they are ok is proof that this is such a valuable space that our circuit offers. For me, seeing members who live in different parts of West Somerset exchanging numbers and arranging to go on the bus to meet each other; seeing a group of members meet for dinner and then come and see a show at The Regal theatre together; seeing those from Friendship Centre come to the Warm Spaces/Warm Welcome at the Church on a Tuesday as well because they feel our church is a safe and welcome place, their place as much as ours, makes me see the wonder of this job and also shows God very much at work in our Circuit and community.
We are always looking for volunteers to allow us to offer more people a place here so if you, or someone you know, has a few hours free on a Wednesday, please give me a call or email. Likewise, if you know someone who is looking for part-time work and would be interested in being our cook for 6 hours, every- other week (it is a paid role), any information can be sought from our administrator, Kerry.
The Friendship Centre is very much what is says in the name and it is so exciting that we are growing together, just as aimed for in our Circuit Vision.
By Penny Williams