An amazing 300-plus people came through the doors for this event held on 1 October at St. Laurence Church in central Reading. The programme of activities included presentations about Universal Benefits, Caring in older age, Volunteering, Celebrating Grandparenting amongst other topics. As well as a display by the Kennet Morris Men, entertainment (and quite a bit of audience participation) came from the Age UK Choir, Zumba Gold, Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain and Denton Dancers’ ballroom demonstrations.
All this was complemented by the many stands from organisations which provide all kinds of different services and products, from clubs and support groups to help with transport and home safety. Plus as one visitor said, the way the organisers and volunteer hosts “work very hard and have made us very welcome. The food was good and everyone has been really helpful.”
Reading Voluntary Action’s Community Journalist Diana Russell was on hand to talk to stall holders and visitors and gathered this useful and interesting feedback.
Transition Reading / Repair Cafe
Found there was a good response and many people interested. Nick’s old Singer sewing machine was a particular attraction!
Draughtbusters were giving practical advice for the home and visitors found this very useful.
Many people took information not, primarily, because they themselves had a colostomy but because they knew someone with a colostomy and felt the information would help them understand the condition better. People were very pleased that the association could offer so much information.
Falls Prevention Team Occupational Therapist, Jo Sheppard, found that there was much interest and that it was busier than she had expected. She had helpful conversations with people about small changes they could make in their lives and environments that would help them avoid falls. Jo commented that it was good to see so many agencies represented and that it was an ideal opportunity for networking with them.
Redland Healthcare found that people were interested because they like to buy locally. They thought this was a good opportunity to tell people about the products they offer.
Mobile Library Service were grateful for the opportunity to bring this service to people’s attention, especially as many are not aware that this service can actually be taken to people’s homes.
National Pensioners Convention found this an opportunity to explain what they do as a campaigning group. They were also able to pass on helpful information, for example about the ‘Disabled Person’s Railcard’ which is 25% cheaper than the ‘Senior Railcard’, is available for people with a range of disabilities, and enables two people to travel at a discounted rate.
Home Start Reading found the event very useful to network with other charities and have the chance of telling people about their own.
Talking Therapies and Talking Health found it useful especially to meet people in the older age range with mental health problems, as these are often under-represented in their workshops.
Alzheimer’s Society found there was “a real buzz here today” and estimated there were about three times the amount of people as last year. They thought it a wonderful venue in the centre of the town and really well organised. They said that most people know about dementia but not about what’s available to support sufferers and their families, so this was an opportunity to find out more.
Blandy and Blandy Solicitors noted the “very good “footfall” with better attended than last year, some very good activities and a wealth of information. People were definitely interested in the information that solicitors can offer about wills and powers of attorney.
Wiltshire Farm Foods found the day a good opportunity to make contacts with people who would like them to give a talk, for example Caversham Elderly People’s Group. They also appreciated the chance to tell lots of people about their products and invite them to try. An example of the service is how it could work for one lady who was going into hospital and wanted food for a couple of weeks on her return home. Many people didn’t realise that this is not just a service for people who are unable to cook, but for anyone who would like a ready meal.
Age UK found that visitors to their stand were very interested in the activities they offer, such as Tai Chi and Zumba Gold (especially after the demonstration!). Their service offering one to one support to people with dementia, and the “Easy Shop” service, both raised a lot of interest and it was good to be able to explain how the services work.
One wheelchair user visiting the event said: “This is a helpful thing to do. Apart from a day out, it’s an opportunity to meet a lot of people. At 70, it’s interesting to see there are things I could be involved in.”