The new initiative in Riverside is to encourage social connections and to reduce loneliness amongst the local population.
South Riverside Community Development Center launches Friends and Neighbour (FAN), a charity that encourages people to socialise in weekly meetings in order to combat isolation amongst people.
“We have been talking with Riverside Comunity Development Centre for a while about starting one here,” said Janina Kuczys, the Support Development Officer for FAN. “It is just a great community resource for people who wants to make new friends and meet their neighbours.”
It is also a great way for non-English speakers to practice their English.
“It is not only about learning English, anybody is welcome to come,” said Janina. “It’s a great resource for people that are just interested in meeting people from different countries but it is also great for people who are lonely. It means they know they can go somewhere and get a warm welcome,” said Janina.
The epidemic of loneliness is sweeping the nation, with 17% of the Welsh population have reported feeling isolated according to the most recent National Survey of Wales’ report.
It has been recognised to be of wider societal and political concern, as it is triggered in all life stages. The Welsh Government has committed to tackling this issue by publishing a loneliness strategy.
Chrissie Ciani, a newly trained Community Wellbeing Officer who is working for Community Wellbeing, participated in the newly established FAN meeting. “I really enjoyed it,” she said. She came here to meet new people and offer services from her organisation. “Not many have heard of us, we offer people support and guidance. If they are interested in break dancing for example, then they can come to us and we can guide them in the right direction.” She will be back for next week’s meeting.
One way to combat loneliness is to go out and meet people. Initiatives such as the FAN meeting is a great way to socialise and establish friends.
“We did some training for facilitators last week, and we are off to a great start, twelve people for the first meeting is really good!” Janine said.
Friends and Neighbours weekly meeting will take place every Thursday from 1 pm – 2 pm at South Riverside Community Development Center located on Brunel Street in Riverside. The FAN community is welcoming anyone who wants to socialise and engage with their neighbours.