“When I moved into my place, I wasn’t very sociable at all. I didn’t like people, I liked to be on my own. Then I heard about Warm and Toasty.”
David Gearey (pictured right), 74, is a retired bingo caller of 26 years from Kingsbury. He lives in sheltered accommodation in Colchester and is a member of The Warm and Toasty Club, a life-affirming, intergenerational music, arts and history organisation working with people over 60, and young emerging musicians.
Watching David interact with other members of the club, he’s the life and soul of the party - but it wasn’t always like that.
Memories, music & mates
As the UK’s largest community funder, The National Lottery Community Fund works with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, funding ideas that help communities thrive with people in the lead.
The Warm and Toasty Club is one such community organisation. Running for five years, the club received National Lottery funding to help continue the great work it does to bring people together through its weekly Memory Afternoons.
While loneliness is a major concern in the UK for people of all ages, over half (51%) of people aged 75 and over live alone and 40% of all older people (about 3.9 million) say that television is their main company.
Watch David & his Warm and Toasty friends talk about the club
But, at Warm and Toasty, with the help of tea and the odd biscuit, guests like David share memories from their past each week followed by live entertainment, which often gets them out of their seats and onto the dance floor.
“The club has done me the world of good”, says David. “It’s that good that I actually volunteer as a helper.”
Tonic for the soul
The Memory Afternoons attract over 25 people each session and some enjoy it so much that they want to help out each week.
Club host Johnno Casson says: “You can’t get a tablet from the doctor for how the Warm and Toasty Club makes you feel. Meeting with these people, being in their company, it really is a tonic for the soul."
For David, it doesn’t bear thinking about where he’d be or what he’d be doing if the club wasn’t around.
“I think my life would go downhill really badly. The club gives me a sense of things to do, something to look forward to. When you enjoy something, you look forward to doing it. If it stops, I've got nothing,” he says.
“It gives me a purpose. There’re new people to meet and new things to discuss. It makes me feel good inside as, if I’m making people happy, it makes me happy. If I don't make someone at least smile then there’s something wrong.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, communities like David’s across the UK can apply to The National Lottery Community Fund forfunding to do similar extraordinary things that bring people together and improve lives.