09:00AM, Saturday 21 November 2020
Maidenhead’s older and more isolated men who struggle to socialise have been able to stay connected during lockdown thanks to a grant from the Advertiser’s owners.
Men’s Matters received a £500 grant from the Louis Baylis Trust in July.
Originally, the money was set to be used for two things – the running costs for the group’s weekly meetings in Maidenhead and Windsor, and for two excursions where the group had planned to visit the Houses of Parliament and the RAF Museum in London.
But with lockdown taking hold, the excursions were cancelled and the group has now switched to regular Zoom meetings, and hopes to spend the money holding some kind of physical Christmas meal for its members in December should Government restrictions allow it.
Men’s Matters trustee Paul Samuels said: “For older guys, when their partner dies it’s a massive hit for them. You can feel very isolated.
“The big thing Men’s Matters offers is a social group.
“Now we’re holding a Zoom meet-up for an hour each week, last time we had 17 guys, it was fantastic.”
When the first lockdown came to an end, the group was able to have some meet-ups in person once again, but now we are back in lockdown, they have returned to Zoom, which is enjoyed by almost all the members.
According to Paul, some of the older men in their 70s and 80s have never used the internet, and are ‘not interested’ in changing that now. Each week, Paul will phone these members up for a catch-up, and then update the rest of the group on the weekly group calls.
Looking ahead, Paul was hopeful that he would be able to use some of the grant money organising some kind of Christmas meal.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll be able to get everyone at a Christmas lunch, even if it’s doing it in sixes, and hopefully next year we can start running our excursions again.
“It makes a massive difference just having that connection with people, having that connection and association with others, listening to them, its what makes us human.”
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NHS data shows 187 people were being cared for at the trust’s three hospitals – Wexham Park, Heatherwood and Frimley Park – as of Tuesday, February 23.