BURTON Albion Community Trust invited Mail reporter ROB HELLIWELL to attend a session of its Golden Goal programme for the over-50s . . .
A LOT is said in the modern day about the ageing population, loneliness and a lack of provision for the older generation.
Burton Albion Community Trust is doing its best to combat this in East Staffordshire through its Golden Goals project, which is proving to be a great success.
Its weekly club, solely for the over-50s, has grown so much in popularity that it is opening up more sessions to cater for the demand.
The premise is simple too. People pay as little as £2 each to head along to the Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion, on Wednesday mornings.
There they are welcomed by a huge group of like-minded people, some of the hard-working community trust staff and a range of activities.
Nothing, though, is forced – tea, coffee and biscuits are on tap – and if people just want to sit and chat or play cards then that is absolutely fine.
Former Burton Albion star, and now trust employee, Aaron Webster, 35, said: “It’s been going so well, we regularly get 75 people coming along to this weekly session at the Pirelli.
“It’s been hugely successful and just keeps growing and growing, so we’re branching out to host more.
“There’s a lot going on – there are various activities to take part in, or people can just have a chat and enjoy a tea or coffee and a biscuit.
“We have dance and fitness going on, curling, table tennis, a Wii sport console. We do quizzes, there are board games, people play cards and we have bingo every week.
“There really is something for everyone to enjoy, but there’s no pressure on anyone, people take part in what they want.”
Dave Gascoigne, 69, of Church Road, Stretton, took a breather from a hard-fought table-tennis game to chat to us.
He said: “I would recommend this to everyone – it’s the best £2 I spend every week.
“There is such a lot going on and the staff are great. There’s great people here.
“We’ve done curling, dancing and we keep fit, but there’s so much else going on too, there’s something for everyone.”
Making improvements and expanding their offering is high on the agenda for the community trust.
Mr Webster said: “We listen to feedback too.
“We want to do the best job we can and it’s evolving all the time.
“When people get older their circumstances can change and it’s easy to get lonely – we hear about it a lot how the older generation can be stuck at home with no-one to chat too.
“It is nice for the club and the trust to combat this and hopefully we’re making a real difference to people – everyone seems to love coming here.”
The Golden Goals club also opens up opportunities to organise day trips and other events.
Peter Lewis, 66, of Stretton, said: “Andrew Griffiths MP took a group of us for a tour around the House of Commons – that was a lovely day.
“Some of us were able to go to see all the poppies at the Tower of London. Groups of us go out for lunch sometimes, we have a cinema club, and a lot of us are connected to the Stretton Ramblers too.”
It is clear strong friendships are formed through the Golden Goals programme, which leads to so much more for those involved.
Just a couple of hours on a Wednesday might not seem a lot, but once friendships are forged it offers a host of opportunities to someone that might previously have felt alone.
Due to the popularity of the Golden Goals programme, there are now additional sessions being set up as the Pirelli Stadium mornings head towards maximum capacity.
These include sessions from 10am to 11am on Tuesdays at the Uttoxeter Hermitage Centre, from 10am to noon on Tuesdays at the trust’s community hub in Grange Street, Burton, from 9.30am to 11.30am on Thursdays at the Immanuel Hall, in Stapenhill, and from 10am to noon on Thursdays at Tutbury Village Hall.
Anyone looking for more information can contact the trust on 01283 565938.