The Connecting Ripon column with Karen Weaver

Hub Clubs enjoy looking after the garden at George Armitage House.
Hub Clubs enjoy looking after the garden at George Armitage House.

Loneliness is an issue that can affect us all at some point in our lives. The new ‘Lets Talk Loneliness’ campaign encourages everyone to start the conversation and say it’s OK to feel lonely and to talk about it.

Our Connecting Ripon member charities offer many opportunities to get together in our community.

George Armitage House in Burton Leonard, the community hub run by Dementia Forward, offers support for around 50 people living with dementia each week. At the Hub Clubs people take part in their favourite activities, such as singing and gardening, but also try new things, meaning carers can enjoy some valuable time to themselves.

As the services grow, so does the need for volunteers. Volunteer Coordinator Debby Lennox said: “We couldn’t run our hub without our fabulous volunteers. We have been bowled over by the support of people from the village, but many volunteers also come from the surrounding area, and simply enjoy the setting and activities.”

The variety of roles on offer means that there is something to suit anyone who is looking to get involved, whether they enjoy singing, walking, crafts, gardening or simply chatting over a cup of tea.

Dementia Forward are also keen to hear from potential volunteer drivers and chaperones who can take the minibus out to collect people, such a vital service.

The hub also brings the wider community together at events such as the recent Dementia-Friendly Churches session with Ripon Cathedral, and Great Get Together with Burton Leonard W.I and History Group. Everyone is welcome to Community Coffee Mornings on the last Friday of every month.

Workers from Jennyruth Workshops help at the coffee mornings, and there are regular speakers, including Ripon Museums and Yorkshire Air Ambulance, links all made through the Connecting Ripon Network.

To find out about volunteering at Dementia Forward, or if you are affected by dementia and would like to know about their services, please contact 03300 578592 or email info@dementiaforward.

Another local charity, Ripon Community Link, has a programme of activities for adults and young people with learning disabilities embedded in our community.

Members enjoy dancing and gardening groups, collect items for recycling from Community House and run a shop for residents at Sunnyfield Lodge, with freshly baked goods from the Ripon Walled Garden Tea Room. In return for donating vegetable plants to Ripon YMCA to develop their plot to plate gardening, YMCA residents have given their time to help at the Walled Garden, learning new gardening skills.

Everyone is welcome to visit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Walled Garden, buy plants or visit the Tea Room. It is a special place which provides opportunities for members to learn skills in horticulture, retail and catering in a supportive environment.

Victoria Ashley, CEO Ripon Community Link, said: “We are very proud to be part of the Ripon community and very grateful for all the support, including for our current campaign fundraising for a new minibus.

“We simply could not do all we do without our volunteers, who in return gain friendships and a sense of belonging and supporting our members. We always have a variety of volunteer opportunities.

“For more information please contact volunteers@riponwalledgarden.org.”