Nostalgia gets under way (October 2017)
At the start of the new ‘Nostalgia’ coffee mornings we talked to Helen, one of the supporters of the activity.
Rochford Life: Helen, I understand ‘Nostalgia’ is a new project of Hawkwell Baptist Church. Can you tell us something about it?
Helen: Yes, we’re describing it as coffee mornings with a difference.
RL: Coffee mornings, so not just one.
Helen: No, we’re hoping they will be fortnightly, on the second and fourth Wednesday mornings of the month, running from 10am to 11.30pm
RL: What’s the difference from a usual coffee morning? Is that the ‘nostalgia’ element? What is that about?
Helen: Yes, that is exactly it. At most coffee mornings people just come in, sit down, chat with one another, and drink tea or coffee. At this one they can do that if they want but the bigger purpose is to help older generations by encouraging them to join in the activities we will be providing which are all designed to strengthen our memories. That’s where the ‘nostalgia’ element comes in.
RL: I thought churches were mainly concerned with spiritual activities? This sounds like something quite different.
Helen: Yes, it is, because we believe God is concerned for the whole person and so Hawkwell Baptist Church has historically been known for providing help for people in far wider ways. For instance, Gwen Hill has run her Care Club in the church for a long time, which provides group physiotherapy exercises specifically for the elderly, to help maintain, or even regain, mobility. That is here every Thursday at 10.30 to 1.30. We also have a group on Thursdays, from 10.00 until 3.00, called New Horizons, which provides community support for those with mental health issues. So already the church makes provision to cater for both physical and mental issues. Nostalgia is simply an extension of that.
RL: Can you spell out what the new series of coffee mornings are about then?
Helen: Yes. We observe two major needs within our society in respect of elderly people. First, there are many elderly people who lack friendship and so when people come to Nostalgia they will be introduced to others and the ‘memory activities’ will include reminiscing about the past. As we do that we get to know one another better.
RL: Ah, this is the nostalgia bit?
Helen: Yes, but even in doing that we are addressing the second major need that we observe among the elderly, and that is to counter loss of the memory facility. All of us in our advanced years struggle with memory but we have learned that we can do things to help that, and that’s what the activities of Nostalgia are about. People can sit and watch and listen if they want, but what we’ve found, as we tried this with a ‘taster’ group, is that once people start being nudged about the past, lots of memories pour forth and people almost can’t help but share their own experiences. As we do that we are exercising our brains and exercise is good. An Oxford professor describing the brain said it is just like a big muscle and the more you use it the healthier it will be.
RL: So will this be to help people with dementia, say?
Helen: No, we are not qualified to deal with that, but we are qualified to help bring guidance on ways that the memory works and how we can strengthen and improve it, and that is one of the main goals of ‘Nostalgia’ – as well as providing simple opportunities for friendship building.
RL: How much will you be charging for each of these mornings?
Helen: Nothing at all. We’re just happy to use the resources we have, to help the older generation. We do it already with Gwen’s Care Club in the physical dimension. We do it already more widely, with New Horizons providing support for those with mental health issues, and now we want to do it more generally to help and encourage this older generation in the realm of memory.
RL: Well, may we wish you well. Finally, do people have to sign up for these mornings?
Helen: Thank you. No, they simply turn up on the morning – second and fourth Wednesdays of the month, about 10.00am and just enjoy the morning. We believe anyone who comes along will enjoy it and find benefit from it. Thank you.