This week, we're delighted to a guest blog by Lucia at The NHS Retirement Fellowship. Supporters of Marmalade Trust, the Fellowship helps their members feel connected and manage feelings of loneliness.
Have you heard of The NHS Retirement Fellowship? It was established in 1978 with the very idea of ensuring that NHS staff who had spent their careers running around busy wards, meeting competing administrative demands and engaging with people all day (or night) remained connected with people who had a similar working experience.
Whilst some people embrace retirement, many others are apprehensive about where it will leave them and their position in society and they are anxious about feeling fulfilled, remaining engaged with people for whom many have worked with for a very long time and ensuring they have "a life" after retirement that has purpose and meaning.
The Fellowship celebrates this through the varied activities of 150 plus branches around the country. From walking groups to Scrabble clubs, theatre trips and visits to places out of reach for people on an individual basis, the Fellowship lives by its mantra of fun, friendship and fellowship. We believe these principles provide the basics for helping to reduce loneliness and isolation.
This has never been as important as it has over the past 18 months. Our branches have worked tirelessly to support each other and particularly doing welfare checks on their most vulnerable members. We have provided technology to some members in the North West who have therefore been given a lifeline to combat loneliness by being able to keep in touch with family and friends within the Fellowship.
Many branches have already had outdoors meetings and gatherings (with the ubiquitous cup of tea and cake) and individuals have told us how much they have valued re-establishing that connectivity.
Behind the scenes, our skeleton part-time staff have also worked to support particularly vulnerable members and have provided light-hearted relief and engagement through our social media activities, arranging free access to inspiring online talks, producing regional newsletters, providing guidance on how to use Zoom, developing a book club and providing updates from our chief executive.
We too have become overly reliant on technology to help our members manage feelings of loneliness and know that our organisation and our members have benefited hugely from its place in the world but we also take the time to speak with members who haven't got that access. It's not a perfect solution but it goes to the very heart of who we are and what we do.
If you, your partner or a close friend worked in the NHS or social care you can join the NHS Retirement Fellowship and can find out more by visiting our website www.nhsrf.org.uk or following us/ liking us on Facebook - just search for NHS Retirement Fellowship.
- Lucia Hiden
Head of Communications/ North East Development Officer
NHS Retirement Fellowship