Older men in Gateshead gain new community group thanks to grant from Durham Freemasons

Friday, 28 June 2019

Isolated and vulnerable older men in Gateshead will be able to have fun and make new friends, thanks to a £10,000 grant from Durham Freemasons to Teams and Bensham Community Care

Around 20 local men are already collected by minibus and taken to a lunch club once a week, where they can socialise, take part in quizzes and games, including very popular Wii competitions, and get a home-cooked lunch. Demand is high, and the grant will fund a second weekly lunch club.

Many of those who attend the club are widowers and the club provides an invaluable chance to talk about their loss with others who have gone through the same experience. It is well-established that older men are far less likely to talk about their feelings than women.

Older men are also much more likely to lose their social networks following the death of a spouse, as their wives tended to be the ones who maintained social networks, as well as the ones who usually prepared meals. Club members often tell staff that having a proper home-cooked lunch is something they especially enjoy.

The benefits of regular social interaction on both physical and mental health are well recognised, with major improvements to both.

The grant from Durham Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Michelle Scott, Trustee at Teams and Bensham, said: 'I’m very grateful to Durham Freemasons for their generous grant. Older men can be very difficult to reach, and we’ve found that our lunch club is a really good way to break their isolation and help them to lead more fulfilling lives.'

John Arthur, from Durham Freemasons, said: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Teams and Bensham expand their work with older men in Gateshead. There are far too many who are isolated, lonely and vulnerable, and the opportunity to make new friends, have fun and get a good home-cooked lunch can make a huge difference to their lives.'

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