As living costs continue to rise, local friendship group, Ormskirk & Southport Oddfellows is urging residents to not cut back on socialising

As living costs continue to rise, local friendship group, Ormskirk & Southport Oddfellows is urging residents to not cut back on socialising.

The not-for-profit group, which has over 500 local members, many older or retired, is 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 it says.

Oddfellows Branch Secretary, Bonita Hesketh says they are making extra efforts to ensure residents continue to have access to affordable social events and opportunities to socialise locally.  

She said: “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, Ormskirk & Southport Oddfellows is holding a special Open Evening on Monday 19th September from 5.30pm to 8.30pm at The Bijou Cinema on Post Office Avenue, Southport. This event has been specifically designed to make newcomers feel at ease and give residents the chance to experience the supportive benefits of joining a friendship group.

Bonita said: “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.”

Research recently undertaken by the Oddfellows showed how those aged 60-plus in the UK have on average four close friends, with three percent mentioning that they don’t have any. Nine out of 10 (87 percent) agreed that friends improved the quality of their life.

The August 2022 study also revealed how 68 percent of over-60s felt they could rely on their friends in times of need, with 65 percent agreeing that friends help them to get through difficult times.

Dr Jennifer Wild

Dr Jennifer Wild

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 provide 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.”

In addition to attending regular social events, members of Ormskirk & Southport Oddfellows can access financial benefits and welfare support, with a dedicated care helpline and citizen’s advice team, and a travel club. Oddfellows membership costs from £25 a year.

To register an interest in attending this Open Evening, or to receive a free local events pack, contact Judith Catton on 01704 545279 or email judith.catton@oddfellows.co.uk

Further event and online open day details can be found at www.friendshipmonth.com, as well as a competition to win one of two Champagne afternoon tea gift boxes.

To read Dr Wild’s series of friendship advice blogs, written especially for the Oddfellows, go to www.oddfellows.co.uk/news.

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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