The Better Lives Club project was funded as part of Brightlife’s ‘Bright Ideas’ strand. This fund encouraged local groups, voluntary organisations and businesses to come forward with ideas to reduce isolation and loneliness for older people within areas or communities of interest.
Better Lives Club was delivered by Bridge Wellness Gardens, a Cheshire-based charity for people with lifelong learning disabilities and mental health issues, with an award of £18,320.
Participation in new schemes can be encouraged by inviting prospective clients/users to visit the project delivery site before committing.
It can be difficult to attract male participants for projects involving non-specific activities, and can be difficult to engage them once they attend.
Development and delivery
Better Lives Club was designed to reduce social isolation and loneliness for older people in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Weekly sessions were delivered on-site at Bridge Wellness Gardens, involving a wide range of craft and wellbeing activities and a hot meal.
The activity programme was co-designed with a participant steering group, with each activity delivered by either a volunteer or a paid session worker. Costs for the meal were covered by a small per-participant fee.
Participants were recruited through promotion of the club via social media and local display advertising, with prospective group members invited to visit the site ahead of the sessions to encourage engagement by building their confidence. Despite the project start date being delayed due to building work taking place on-site, attendance for the sessions was good.
The project team reported having particular difficulty attracting men (and finding it challenging to engage those who did attend sessions). They also reported that participation in the formal evaluation, including administration of the CMF questionnaire, was a challenge for project staff.
“The biggest challenge that we have had throughout our Brightlife project is paperwork. Although we understand how important data collection is, the group as a whole has found it particularly arduous and quite intrusive.”
Impact and legacy
Delivery of the Better Lives Club has continued beyond the end of the Brightlife funding period, with ongoing costs met by increasing the per-participant fee for each session by a small amount, and by introducing additional charges for one-off events and trips.
Involvement in the Brightlife project raised the profile of Bridge Wellness Gardens within the local community, which led to a significant increase in business for its on-site cafe.