I visited Middleton Elderly Aid’s social centre to find out what the services they provide – meals, activities, trips, information and advice – mean to the people who use them.
Rene Moore tells me she didn’t have anywhere to go until she found Middleton Elderly Aid (MEA). “I was sat at home all day with my dog.” The 95 year old moved to Middleton when the Westwood estate was built in the 1960s. She likes her house and its views across the valley to Morley, but “everyone’s got a car nowadays” she says, “you don’t see anyone on the street anymore.”
Rene is effusive about MEA. “You’re always welcomed and looked after here. We have meals and play games.” Rene, it turns out, is still a dab hand at ping pong.
Jack Ellis has been coming to MEA for about five years.
“Since I joined my life has gone from a lonely old man to one with lots of friends and a good dinner four times a week. I would come seven days a week if I could!” he tells me.
Jack’s wife died 12 years ago and he tried to drown his sorrows with alcohol. His old friend Robin Silverwood ran into him and encouraged him to come along for his breakfast the next day. Jack wasn’t sure about coming back but was tempted to lunch later that week and has never looked back. “You can get involved with activities if you want” explains Robin “but there’s no pressure.”
Lydia Smith’s daughter suggested she visit MEA’s social centre.
“I wasn’t keen, I didn’t have the confidence to come to somewhere new. She kept suggesting it and to be honest, I came to shut her up! But she was right, I’ve made fantastic new friends here and I’ve not looked back.”
She’s now looking forward to her first holiday without her family – a week in Llandudno with MEA.
Lydia’s new friend Margaret has been a member for ten years, meeting first at the charity’s shop, then at St Cross Church and now in their own social centre.
“I’ve made more friends here than I’ve ever had” she says. “It really was a godsend after my husband died. People here bring you out of yourself. I can’t praise it enough. The meals are very good, there’s something to do everyday. You needn’t be lonely – come to MEA.”
Hot lunches are served on Monday, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and cost just £4. Weekly activities include crafts, computers, Bingo and Hoy. There are also chair based activity classes, line dancing, ping pong as well as regular talks from other agencies and trips out.
A new monthly memory cafe is due to start on Wednesday 28 March and a fortnightly walking group starts on Wednesday 14 March.
Middleton Elderly Aid’s social centre in based in the old Middleton Community Centre on the corner of Middleton Park Avenue and Acre Road. Call (0113) 272 1050 for more information, or just drop in.