Valley Leisure’s Riverside Bowl team set up Bowling Goldies five years ago to provide a fun and informal group activity session for older adults in Andover. Purposefully planned to take place on a Thursday morning when Andover’s only ten-pin bowling facility is quiet, Bowling Goldies quickly gained popularity and the group now regularly take over all eight lanes!
“It’s fun and I enjoy the company of others in the group. It also keeps me active and mentally fit.” is how one member of Riverside Bowl’s ‘Bowling Goldies’ group feels about the weekly session and what keeps them coming back for more.
Since re-establishing the weekly session after the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 were lifted, the Thursday group has grown to nearly 50 people leading the charity to set up a second session on a Tuesday morning.
It’s clear that friendship and the company of others are what keep people coming, the peals of laughter echo around the facility each week. Ahmet, aged 83, who lives alone said “I come to Bowling Goldies each week as it gets me out of the house, I get to socialise and meet friends who I’ve met through the group.”
Whilst not specifically established to combat loneliness and social isolation, the group is certainly having a positive impact on feelings of company, camaraderie and friendship for older adults in Andover. “I’ve met a great group that are now friends and I look forward to it all” is how one member of the group described why she attends every week.
The Campaign to End Loneliness estimate that half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all and they further indicate that loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day with loneliness causing a 26% increase in risk of premature death.
In Hampshire, it is estimated that 27,000 older adults aged over 65 are lonely most of the time with those living in more urban areas such as Andover being more at risk of feeling lonely. Addressing social isolation and using physical activity as a mechanism to overcome feelings of loneliness and social exclusion is a key priority for Hampshire County Councils’ public health team. Fortunately for older adults in Andover, Bowling Goldies does just that and is paving the way to enable older adults to move more and feel better, the core mission of the charity.
Even with the rising cost of living, members of Bowling Goldies are keen to continue coming as the value of the group is priceless. Group members recently said “the price here remains reasonable and stable.”
Bowling Goldies is an informal drop-in activity at Riverside Bowl taking place every Tuesday and Thursday from 11am to 1pm. Tuesdays have been set up to cater for demand as the Thursday session is at capacity.