When Carmen first came to Wornington Green’s Coffee Afternoon five years ago, she didn’t know much about Wornington Green or its community.
“My friend Cheryl asked me along at church,” she says, “I told her I wasn’t a Catalyst customer, and she said friends and neighbours can come, which I’m glad I did. I didn’t know many people on the estate, but since I started to come I’ve got to know a lot of people in the area – when you retire, you start to come out.
“Sometimes you have a stableful, sometimes ten or twelve people. There are lots of regulars: three or four friends and neighbours as well as Wornington Green residents. We do quizzes to stimulate the brain, word searches, movies, outings, chat about current events or have a little singsong – it depends on the mood. No pressurising – we do everything so that everybody can be happy.
“Sometimes we go on outings: to the farm, the park for a picnic, the seaside or the theatre, for example. We’re asked what we’d like to go and see, and Catalyst subsidise it. We also have a Christmas dance.
“The last Wednesday of the month, we go to the Venture Centre and have a birthday celebration for anyone who’s had a birthday that month.”
Now Carmen brings new people to the Coffee Afternoon herself.
“Even today I’m coming here, I see someone who lives in the area and I say we’re going to the Coffee Afternoon, and they pop in. To someone who wasn’t sure about coming, I’d say ‘come and see for yourself, get out of the house!’. It brings you together to know your community, gives you that belonging to something. You’re building up a routine and entertainment for yourself in retirement. It’s a reason to go out, especially in winter, when people tend to hibernate.
“Each time we come we get an idea of what’s going on with the regeneration: we get little updates, they show us the plans. People from Catalyst will come in for a chat, and they’re all very welcoming and friendly. Tim (the Regeneration Manager) is great, and so is Patricia (Partnerships and Outreach Officer).”
The Coffee Afternoon is held at Portobello Hall every Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm.