Local Henbury resident Grace Holmes used to live a very isolated life and would spend days not leaving her home. She felt very alone since her divorce, and with all of her family living in South Africa she felt that she only had one real friend in Bristol.
Grace received a leaflet through her door asking if she would be interested in taking part in LinkAge’s ACE Project, which is a peer support programme created by the University of Bath. The programme supports older adults by having a volunteer attend activities with them, helping the person to become more active and engaged with their local community. Grace decided that after years of feeling isolated and alone, she would give it a go.
Through the project she met her volunteer ACE Activator Marilyn, who is now a very good friend. Their first day together saw them meet in a coffee shop, where they tried to find out abit more about each other, such as their interests. Grace said, “I liked Marilyn instantly; I thought she had a nice, friendly face”.
After the initial meeting they arranged to meet each other weekly, as well as having weekly phone conversations. The ACE Project encourages people to attend new activities together, so Grace and Marilyn tried Chairaerobics, New Age Kurling and even a Cookery Course.
Now 2 years on, Grace is a changed person. She attends weekly Line Dancing classes, she can regularly be seen at New Age Kurling at the Henbury Centre and she has even started a Monthly Coffee Morning where she lives! As part of the Coffee Morning, Grace helps to organise day trips for people who feel isolated and wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to get out of their house. She now feels that she is part of the community, and is always meeting new people.
Our ACE Activator Marilyn said, “The whole experience for me was good and rewarding, we have a real friendship now.”
Grace said, “ACE changed my life, it makes you happier and more independent. It’s taken me out of my shell and brought me out to see the world.”