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Balby woman uses community spirit to keep social isolation at bay

20 May 2016
Sheila hosting this week’s Wednesday Club

As the country marks Mental Health Awareness Week, one Balby retirement living resident is helping her neighbours overcome social isolation as a way of keeping her own at bay.

Sheila Wyman, 65, started the Wednesday Club at Sanctuary Housing’s Gresley Road retirement living scheme in April 2014 as a way of giving herself independence following the loss of her husband Mick.

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, members of the weekly club have come together for a coffee morning and discussion on the role of staying physically and mentally active in promoting healthy mental wellbeing.

Taking place every week, the club offers a chance for residents to take part in various activities, from computer tuition, and health and beauty courses to Halloween parties and wartime-themed Christmas balls.

While partner organisations will often fund projects, residents will work together to help raise funds for the activities, the most recent example being a homemade recipe booklet sold to residents, visitors and staff.

Refreshments are provided at the events and leaflet drops are carried out to let residents know what activities are coming up, all undertaken by Sheila herself.

Sheila also collects and drives home some of the older or more physically restricted residents, to ensure no one at Gresley Road misses out.

She said: “I’m proud I’ve been able to help bring people from Gresley Road together and it’s great to see them having a good time.

“It’s given me a real purpose in life and although some days are a struggle without Mick, I didn’t used to have much confidence so I think he would be proud.”

Outside of the Wednesday Club, Sheila helps operate a befriending service for people who don’t have family to ensure no one else risks experiencing social isolation.

She will help those who have difficulty leaving their home by bringing their shopping, having a chat, providing a lift to GP appointments and taking them to garden centres.

Local service manager Julia Brown said: “Social isolation can be a key issue for our residents, especially if they live by themselves. Sheila’s commitment to them by providing a friendly face can make all the difference in the world.

“Keeping active in this way has helped keep her busy, but it’s also been fantastic for boosting the community spirit at Gresley Road.”