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2019 has been an interesting year for Forum 55; a year of change with a new management committee and new ideas.
We continued with our Monday Club at Forest Community Centre and our monthly film shows at the Melksham Assembly Hall. On Thursdays at the Riverside Club we gratefully accepted Wiltshire Council’s Healthier Communities offer to provide a wide range of floor games and fun-based exercises.
We’ve provided Tai Chi, quizzes, sing-along mornings and a slate of 34 guest speakers during the year, in addition to making time for people to sit and chat with friends. Our wonderful team of volunteers, though overstretched, kindly made sure that refreshments were made available at all our venues. An average of 66 watch our monthly movies and enjoy tea and chat during the intermissions. Our 16th December Christmas Party ensured that 60 guests had the opportunity to catch up with friends over a festive meal.
We completed phase one of our very successful ‘Socialize n’ Shop’ outreach initiative, with over 250 over 55s sign-ups.
Our 2019 milestones included our Forum being recognized by the election of one of our management committee to the Chair of the South West Seniors Forum; this regional body covers every county in the South West including the Scilly Isles. Another highlight was, in partnership with Melksham Area Board, hosting a special older persons’ area board meeting where we focused upon Melksham’s new status as the UK’s first Age Friendly rural town, a WHO/UN programme requiring members to promote projects that assure an age friendly environment. Our area board generously established a fund to pay for a consultant to discover the pathways to achieve this, to which Forum 55+ contributed £3,000.
Melksham Town Council kindly gave us a grant enabling us to continue using the Assembly Hall for our movies and Christmas party.
In 2020, we plan to broaden our menu and pursue the objectives of our town’s Age Friendly status; we shall actively engage with the consultants on outlining how to achieve these objectives.
We plan to attract more members and recruit more volunteers to enable us to expand our services. We’ll strive to identify lonely and isolated seniors to provide them with an avenue out of loneliness. We will commence planning for a permanent Seniors Drop-in Centre where we can provide daily activities, support, service signposting and socialization in a setting that seniors can call their own.
2020 will see us in a wider collaborative network with other local and regionally-based groups, making the fullest use of the underutilized programmes and funds available. We intend to engage in intergenerational activities, lobby on seniors’ behalf and hold townwide focus groups to guide our service delivery.
In farewell to 2019, we express our gratitude to the area board, town, parish, and county councils for their financial and material support and to our hard working volunteers who make sure that our doors remain open. We thank all those groups and individuals who have collaborated with us, the fine speakers who have given their time to talk to us, the hard working community engagement manager for Melksham who provides us with practical advice, and of course to our unique town treasure – the Melksham Independent News, who have publicized our Forum’s activities throughout the year.
Thank you everyone, Forum 55+ wishes you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2020.