Older lady smiling whilst opening the door to a community centre.

6 April 2023

Our team started working with Phillis after YMCA took over Making Connections from Accord Housing. When Rue our Making Connections Project Worker, first met Phillis she seemed down and in low mood. Phillis told me us that since her husband died she found it hard to find things to help get her out her flat. She suffers with Arthritis in her knee and finds it difficult some days to walk, Phillis has 5 children, her youngest having passed away in her 30s due to cancer, some days she finds it hard to get motivated to get out of her flat. Phillis also suffers with low confidence and gets anxious, especially when she has to go anywhere she doesn’t know for the first time. Phillis likes to have people to talk to and would really like to attend more places and do more activities to not only get her out her flat but so she can also make new friends.

We started off by talking about things that were of interest to her, Phillis told Rue she loves music and because she has to keep control of her weight, learning to cook healthy meals and be able to be more active would be of interest to her too. We told Phillis about the Places of Welcome coffee mornings all across Walsall, they are a good way to meet new people Phillis said she would like to give one if we were able to attend with her as she would be too nervous to go on her own. We then picked one that Phillis said she knew where it was as it was the church where her husband was buried and she would be able to attend on her own once she felt comfortable to do so.

The following week we attended the coffee morning and although Phillis was initially nervous, when she realised how friendly and open people were, she started to relax, she knew someone that she got talking to and they realised they knew all the same people, while we were there Phillis asked if we could go to her husband’s grave as she hadn’t been able to visit since before Covid. While we were at the Place of Welcome we saw a flyer for the Dance to health for over 55s, Phillis decided she wanted to try this as it could be done at a chair as well as standing up; she couldn’t really get into the movements but said it was nice to try something new and it helped to get her out.

Rue attended an event at Walsall Arboretum on Green social prescribing and met the Co-founder of a project in Walsall that ran activities that she thought Phillis would be interested in. Rue and Phillis attended and she loved it! They arranged for her to attend a couple more times with Rue’s support, they also attended with another client and Phillis and this client have now become bus buddies so they can attend together each week.

Rue said, “I have definitely seen a change in Phillis from when I first met her, being able to attend new places and talk to new people has really given her the confidence to believe in herself, and that with a little help initially she can then attend places on her own. Phillis said she is very grateful for all my support, she’s not only getting out of her flat but she is also meeting new people and making friends.

Phillis is always open to try things I suggest to her, even with her mobility not being 100%. I love the fact I get to see her smile and that is all that matters, Phillis has gone from feeling alone at times and isolated to now being able to go out and meet up with others with little or no support at all.”

For more information on the Making Connections project, please contact Rue Green on 01922 700950 or rue.green@ymcabc.org.uk