Recent reports in the media have revealed how isolated elderly people can become in our modern society. There have been several cases recently of deaths only discovered after months have passed. Government and political leaders are now addressing such problems with a fresh urgency.
30 years ago, the then Young Wives’ Club at the parish of the Good Shepherd were concerned about the increasing isolation of elderly members of the community in their area. They addressed the problem by starting a Retired Friends Group to fill a number of needs, social, spiritual and educational. The group now meets on Thursday and still provides a wide range of activities, providing morning tea and a lunch, regular worship and chances to get information from well-informed speakers on topics relevant to the situation of the Friends. Above all, the club is social, and visiting speakers or performers may have to compete with many lively conversations.
On March 9th 2007, the Retired Friends Group celebrated its 30th Anniversary, and former volunteers gathered to celebrate. Archdeacon David Simpson attended to represent Bishop Brian and the Diocese, and to celebrate the eucharist.
Mrs Sandra Astley was presented with an award to acknowledge her multi-talented role as the “lynchpin” of the volunteers, and spoke for many when she said that she had gained more from volunteering than she had given.
In the address at the eucharist, the Rector, Revd Fergus King, noted that the Friends Group, in light of recent events, could be considered to have been well ahead of its time, and the irony that many of those still volunteering were now of a maturity that they would qualify for membership of the group. It was an example of Bishop Brian’s address to Synod in which he stressed the energy available to the church from its older members.