George Bernard Shaw had a way with words that was both inspiring and to the point. “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
Apt words to be used on the eve of the launch of the Hub Club, a collaborative project between the Southern Community Initiatives and the Department of Health. Situated on the ground floor reception area of Thie Rosien (better known to many as Old Southlands) the Hub Club is the result of many months of research, negotiation and fund raising.
Research carried out in the South of the island in 2009/10, discovered a number of trends. Loneliness and isolation across the generations is affecting many of us; intergenerational misunderstanding, lack of relevant activities for the youth and the issues presented by an aging population are also concerns.
“The vision of SCI is to tackle these issues through relevant community activities that will bring people together, foster understanding and forge friendships and support,” explained Janet Bridle, the Scheme Coordinator. “Men in Sheds was our first project and it has resulted in astonishing benefits for retired men in the south.”
The SCI committee want to keep that momentum going and apply the same principles to other community projects. “Tackling isolation and loneliness is at the heart of these activities,” added Phil Gawne, SCI Chairman. “With the support of the Department of Health in allowing us to use Thie Rosien, we have created a central location where we can have a community focus and reach out to so many more.”
But what of the current health services provided from Thie Rosien – will they be affected? As Director of Health Care Delivery Norman McGregor Edwards explains, “One of the reasons this project has been some time in the making is because we wanted to be absolutely sure that none of the existing services would be affected. The Department has consulted with the service providers and as a result we are very confident that what SCI has to offer will complement what we already offer at Thie Rosien.”
The Hub Club is a warm and welcoming place where people can come to find out about what is available in their community – from health and social care to clubs, groups and charities. Activities are being planned with many existing charities and groups who are partners of SCI. A gardening project is gaining momentum, as is the expansion of Men in Sheds which recently erected a new woodworking shed behind the existing garage. Cookery lessons for retired men is one of the first scheduled events and plans are afoot to extend that to young mums, teenagers and anyone else wanting to start from scratch or polish some skills. Vital to making all this happen at the Hub Club are volunteers.
“I heard about this project from my husband, who is a member of Men in Sheds,” said Port Erin resident Pat Weldon. “I am excited to be an early volunteer for such an enterprising project. I also want to meet people and get involved more in my community.”
Another vital element has been the people and organisations who have donated funds to help get this project off the ground. “Without the support of our funders - Manx Lottery Trust, Microgaming, Friends Provident International, Gough Ritchie and Celton Manx – we would not have been able to move the vision of the SCI from the original ideas to the projects we have today,” explained volunteer Treasurer Kevin Taggart. “We would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them not just for the funds but their support as well.”