North Manchester Black Health Forum held an event for 40 socially isolated older people from Black African Caribbean communities, who were living with long-term health conditions. The event was an evening of music, dance and refreshments, helping to bring older neighbours together to share wellness. Volunteers at the event facilitated and captured conversations about different things that can help to lift people’s moods and to help them feel happy and calm.
Jamila B (in the white cardigan) is 86 years of age and walks about a mile to the centre for each session. She lives alone with family support. Her independence is very important to her and noting a decline in her physical and mental wellbeing, she thought it was time for action! She joined NMBHF 'active bodies active mind' group and never looked back. She said:
“The way I look at it is that if I am thirsty and ask my daughter for water, she will get it, but she might get distracted and I would sit there until she fetches me the water. I don’t want to depend on anyone, I want to be able to get up and get a drink for myself and thankfully coming to these activities, I am fit enough to do it."
She shares about her wellness and what works for her!
“I don’t like living alone. It makes me feel anxious and depressed, I check the cooker, doors & windows again and again to see if all is okay. I know there is nothing I can do about it as children have to live their own lives, therefore when I feel down I get my sewing machine out and make outfits for me, my family and my friends. When I see what I made, I feel so much better and happier. Especially when I come to Welcome Wednesday Group and get a lot of complements from everyone.
Danny is 79 years old and lives in North Manchester.
1. How did you find out about North Manchester Black Health Forum?
Ruqia Allana came to our African Caribbean Elders Group (ACE) many years ago and told us about it and it sounded really interested so I signed up for it and I've not regretted it.
2. What your volunteer role is.
I am a retired chef so I use my skills in the kitchen with other volunteers. We make fresh food every Monday and Wednesday for the Woodlands café and for people to take home. I feel very satisfied when I see people enjoying the food as for many these are the only hot meals they will have.
3. What do you enjoy about it?
I’ve been a volunteer since I retired and did a little even before that. I like meeting people and feeling useful. It gives me joy to see older people having a laugh and being busy doing something. It makes me feel happy.
4. What difference has it made to your life?
It breaks my heart when I see some of the older people just sitting there looking out of the window or door as if they are waiting for someone or something to happen. If I can bring a little sunshine into their lives then I am privileged that I am given this opportunity to make a difference. I have learnt a lot through going on trainings and meetings and met some wonderful people who volunteer at NMBHF, we got to know each other and share ideas and experiences and also have a good laugh.
Nasim – age 69, British Pakistani
Nasim cared for her mother until she passed away and now cares for her husband who has multiple health conditions including depression. Nasim is a very sociable person so she herself feels suffocated and isolated and depressed.
What works for her is volunteering!
"I have been volunteering for over 20 years. I am learning to paint and draw, especially bright things, and doing this with our group really makes it fun."
"I read Urdu and English newspapers in the Welcome Wednesday Groups and we talk about what is happening and how it affects us. I also visit people at home and in hospital who live alone or when they are not well, or something has happened and if they need any more help, I inform NMBHF staff who take it further."
"I can see how being a volunteer makes a big difference to people and helps them to live healthy and independently in their own homes, in their communities. Volunteering makes me feel good about myself and I feel happier in helping others."
We should do it more often - the joy of listening to music