Gaynor Davies from Pembrokeshire 50+ Forum writes about her experience of using a Forum Restart Grant from Cymru Older People’s Alliance to run an event in her area.
Pembrokeshire 50+ Forum had a rocky start at the beginning of the lockdown, not knowing how to deal with meetings. Like everyone else, it was hard to adjust to this new world. Eventually we started meeting via Zoom and although this has been a useful tool, some of our members have not been able to join us online. Adding to this, some of our members moved out of the area and other members sadly passed away, so our group was depleted.
When we read the offer of a restart grant from COPA, we thought we would give it a go. A few of us met to complete the application form and we decided to go ahead and plan the face-to-face meeting which we called our Meet and Greet.
We decided to hold our meet and greet at a local football ground as their facility would allow us to put some Covid-19 risk assessment measures in place. For example, there were a lot of windows we could open and outdoor space we could use. We also wanted to support the local club as they help other voluntary organisations, and the money spent on hiring the club would in turn help others.
With the help of our Coordinator, we set up an email address and a mobile phone so people could email or phone to register their interest. We also emailed other local voluntary organisations and designed a leaflet for our members to distribute in shops and pharmacies etc. We had a great response and this gave us the confidence to order individual cardboard lunchboxes for our attendees. These included a sandwich, sausage rolls, cakes and a small sweet dish – with veggie options for those who needed them!
We were very lucky with how our event turned out! We had bright sunshine and were able to sit outside. We used the first half hour to catch up with our long-standing members, then the other invitees arrived just in time for lunch. Our Older People’s Champion gave a short speech about the importance of involving older people in the Strategy for An Ageing Society. Our Coordinator also brought along a guest who happened to be an expert at I.T.! Our members really enjoyed meeting her, and we have decided to hold another face-to-face meeting with a focus on helping our members use technology.
All in all, our Meet and Greet was very successful and we now have around 19 extra interested members. We hope we will get to see them soon!
To find out more about Pembrokeshire 50+ Forum please visit the Pembrokeshire Council Website: https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/social-care-whats-available/full-of-life-at-50-plus
To find out more about joining your local forum, check our map here: https://www.copacharity.com/a-national-organisation/
If you are already part of a local 50+ forum and would like to find out more about the COPA Forum Restart Grant please email Kathy Lye: firstname.lastname@example.org