A FRIENDSHIP organisation based in South Warwickshire is urging residents not to cut back on socialising despite the cost of living crisis.
Heart of England Oddfellows told the Observer is it becoming increasingly concerned about the impact any reduced social contact could have on people’s mental health and wellbeing – a lesson learnt from the pandemic.
Oddfellows Branch Secretary, Yvette Glover said they are making extra efforts to ensure residents continue to have access to affordable social events and opportunities to socialise locally.
She continued: “When you’re stretched financially, you’ve no choice but to look at how you can better budget or where to spend less.
“We want to remind people that socialising doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s not where you get together that matters, but that you’re just getting together.
“We saw the effect spending less time in the company of others had on our members during the pandemic and we need to make sure that as we face another difficult time we stay in touch and support each other.”
To celebrate national Friendship Month this September, Heart of England is holding several inexpensive taster events. These events have been specifically designed to make newcomers feel at ease and give residents the chance to experience the supportive benefits of joining a friendship group.
Events include a Fish, Chip and Quiz Night held at Oddfellows Hall in Leamington on September 3 and a coffee morning at Cafe Brasilia in Royal Priors Shopping Centre on September 12.
Yvette added: “Nobody should be without company if they want it. If you’re finding it difficult to socialise in later life, or you’d like to build or extend your friendship circle, groups such as ours are a great way to meet like-minded people locally. We’d love to see you.”
Dr Jennifer Wild, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and friend of the Oddfellows, describes friends as ‘precious protectors’, and something you can never put a price on.
She said: “Friendship is a wonderful thing. Spending time with people who share our values and beliefs can be very motivating, and laughter with friends is proven to improve our mood.
“But friendship goes much deeper than that. The support that good friends provides can also be protective. Those with close companions they can lean on in tough times are less likely to suffer from depression. Friends offer perspectives more compassionate than our own, which helps to interrupt self-critical thinking and improve our problem-solving skill set.”
Anyone interested in attending an Oddfellows Friendship Month taster event can contact Yvette Glover on 01926 424112 or email [email protected]