'Chinwaggers' group puts socialising back on the menu

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre
Byline: Sonya Duncan

It's hoped that the meetings will be up to full capacity again in August - Credit: Sonya Duncan

After months of staying home, elderly people living in Kesgrave have been able to meet up with friends once more after the return of the popular chinwag group. 

The chinwag group had originally been run by Age UK Suffolk but had to stop after the charity, which funded the events, collapsed last year. 

Since then new funding has been found and the 'chinwaggers' were able to meet up in person for the first time since the end of lockdown at  Kesgrave Community and Conference Centre.

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Byline: Sonya Duncan

Chinwag meetings have begun again in person in Kesgrave - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"It was a bit of a small introduction for everyone," said Jo Barker, business development and marketing manager at the centre 

"Hopefully in August we will be back in the big hall and we can have more people there. 

"It is proving to be very popular still."

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre
Byline: Sonya Duncan

The chinwag meetings had been running virtually but this was the first opportunity for people to meet in person - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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For many of those in the group it was an opportunity to catch up and see friends, something that had been increasingly difficult during the past 18 months. 

"They all said they had a lovely time," said Mrs Barker. 

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"A lot of them have hardly been out of the house or seen their friends.

"When we posted some of the pictures online some people commented saying it was nice to see their friends or relatives out and looking so well."

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Pictured is Stuart Lawson, General Manager

Stuart Lawson, general manager of KWMCC and Jo Barker, business development manager, Fiona Farrell, events coordinator, Pat Winter, volunteer and volunteer Diane Ingledew

The impact of being able to go out and meet people in the space that the chinwag meetings provides cannot be underestimated. 

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Byline: Sonya Duncan

Kegrave Community centre chinwag meetings have returned in person - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"I had one lady on the phone who said that that chinwags had changed her life," said Mrs Barker. 

"So it's great that we can keep things going."

After a whirlwind few months and the uncertainty that both the pandemic and the loss of Age UK Suffolk has provided, Mrs Barker said it had been so rewarding to see people back together again. 

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Byline: Sonya Duncan

Chinwag meetings in Kesgrave have returned for the first time in months

"It's been really lovely to be able to get back to some sort of normality," said Mrs Barker. 

"Especially for them, they just seem so happy to be there and so pleased we are carrying on. 

"A lot of people have booked on for the rest of the year." 

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Byline: Sonya Duncan

Thirty people attended the first in person meeting of the chinwag group in months - Credit: Sonya Duncan

There are already plans in place for the rest of the year with musical acts and service providers set to be involved in the sessions. 

The meetings take place once a month on the third Friday of the month from 2-4pm . 

Anyone wanting to take part should call the centre or email them.

Chi way meetings begin again at Kegrave Community centre Pictured is Stuart Lawson, General Manager

Stuart Lawson, General Manager of KWMCC and Jo Barker, business development manager - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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