Who Rescued Whom?

There are many animal rescue centres in the UK where unwanted, lost and neglected animals wait for new homes. But Jayne Owen asks: do we rescue the animals or do they rescue us? 

This blog post is adapted from an article in our quarterly magazine, the Be Well Bugle. You can see more of the Bugle in the archive, here.

Rescued animals can thrive with a bit of time and TLC

My first ‘rescues’ were chickens. When my children left home I suffered from “empty nest syndrome”. I needed something to look after, and for me that turned out to be chickens.

 

After buying two hens from a neighbour, I rescued four ex-battery chickens through the auspices of the British Hen Welfare Trust. These were young hens kept in factory conditions whose “real life” only began with me – seeing the sky, chasing butterflies, dust bathing and sunbathing for the first time. Over the following 11 years, 33 chickens have come and gone, roughly 50% of them ex-battery hens.

 

Some years later, I learnt about Dogs4Rescue. This organisation, based in Irlam, rescued 3000 chickens from the M62 when a lorry carrying birds to slaughter overturned on the motorway behind their farm. Friends told me about these hens in need and though I offered to take some, I didn’t get any as they were rehomed too quickly. But I did get a dog!

 

In January 2015, I had lost my Labrador, Daisy, which left our Springer Spaniel, Lily, an only dog; and me heart-broken. So I rescued Buster, an ex-street dog from Cyprus who had already ‘failed’ in two British homes. I saw his photo and fell in love. He came “on trial” but was never going back!  Two years later he was joined by another Dogs4Rescue graduate, Honey.

 

But who rescued whom?  I gave these beautiful souls a loving home and they mended my broken heart; made me a carer again; gave me a purpose, a reason to get up and get outside; and someone to talk to. It’s difficult to get a word in edgewise with a group of chatty chickens, but I manage it; not so hard with dogs, they are excellent listeners!

 

We all need rescuing at points in our lives. I say, let a “rescue” rescue you.

 

Dogs4Rescue is an independent dog rescue where the dogs live together in a kennel free environment. Working with partners in dog pounds in the UK, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and even Afghanistan to rescue unwanted and unloved street dogs, they are funded by the profits from their Daycare 4 Dogs dog crèche and from fundraising. They can be found online or by ringing 07412361769.

The British Hen Welfare Trust rescues battery hens from slaughter and rehomes 60,000 UK birds as pets per year. Visit their website or call them on 01884 860084

The Birds that Flew

With Be Well’s 10th anniversary this year, we’re in a reflective mood! While we’re always happy to talk about what we’re up to now and what’s on the horizon, there are some activities we set up in the past which have since “flown the nest”. They’re still thriving, but now under new management!

 

Over the last ten years, we’ve seen a fair few of our sessions take off under new management.

There comes a time when every bird has the fly the nest!

Today, we’re just going to tell you about three of our more unlikely success stories – including two which have only just struck out on their own and might need your support.

When we started, we were all about physical activity. Nowadays there’s a whole “Move More” movement on the go, but back in 2012 we were ground-breakers! Over the first few years of Be Well, we recruited hundreds of local older people into everything from Football to Rounders – both done at walking pace – and thought we had found our niche. Then our customers got involved.

Can we try this? Why don’t you do that? And when someone – you know who you are, Keith Clegg – suggested we do something specifically for people who would struggle with even gentle physical activity, we offered to pilot a session which prioritised the social side of things.

Men’s Club was formed, with the very gentlemanly Malcolm Bradford at the helm. Every week a number of men would meet, play a little table tennis or pool or anything they had a mind to and we had the kit for. Then they would sit down to a brew and a natter.

Now everybody can meet face to face, the group have struck out on their own. They’ve booked a room at the Central Methodist Church on Chapel Street and the gang is back together.

Our Chess Club, which was started on the initiative of regular walker Ian Brown, also emerged from lockdown and into independence. They realised they were quite able and quite keen to manage their own affairs, and so negotiated with Glossop Library for a quiet space to use. They’re now open for business every other Wednesday afternoon.

The third of our favourite former sessions is Read My Lips, High Peak and Tameside which was started as a response to the challenges met by our own Chair, Mick Owen, when his progressive hearing loss got so bad that he reluctantly accepted the need to do more than “turn up your hearing aids”. Lipreading looked like a good idea but the nearest session was 45 minutes away in Chorlton.

1 in 6 people in the UK is deafened or hard of hearing, but still reliant on the spoken word to communicate. With this in mind, Mick used our contacts and systems to find a room, a tutor, a group of learners and the funding to underpin the enterprise. By 2019 the group was strong enough to take charge of its destiny, and they still meet on Fridays in Glossop town centre.

When you add in Walking Football groups and regular walks that have “spun off” from Be Well, we think we have plenty to be proud of! And we’re always pleased to hear from those of our groups who have flown the nest and help them along if times are hard. We’re nice like that.


Here are the latest details of the three groups:


Lipreading

We are very supportive of the Read My Lips, High Peak and Tameside group which was initially part of our programme. It is such a valuable service that we will always try to help them if they need us. We know, for example that they are looking to recruit new learners in the post lockdown period. Their sessions are:

Fridays 1.30 to 3.30pm

£40 for a 10 week term (payable in advance)

Central Methodist Church, Chapel Lane, Glossop SK13 8AT

Contact: Karen at karenrigg572@aol.com

Read My Lips helps people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing and use voice in face-to-face communication. The sessions will teach you the skills of lip reading but also help with your confidence in public and show you strategies for thriving with hearing loss.


Chess Club

This is a friendly group where playing is more important than winning so no matter how much you know about the King’s Gambit – whatever that is – you’ll be made very welcome. Their sessions are:

Every other Wednesday from 1.30pm-3.30pm

The first floor of Glossop Library.

Players are welcome to turn up on the day, or can contact David by email at djfpawnpusher@hotmail.com or by telephone at 01457 514654.

All levels of players are welcome, including those who would like to learn how to play. The group is adults only.


Men’s Group

Weekly meetings at Central Methodist Church on Chapel Street.

What We Do Works: Wellbeing and COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to try and find ways to help our community stay connected and keep active. We’re firm believers in the power of social and physical activity to make people feel happier and be healthier.

But during the ups and downs of lockdown, those are two things that have been particularly difficult for a lot of people. So how have COVID-19 measures effected our personal wellbeing? And are things improving?

Gardening has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve wellbeing in lockdown

What Works Wellbeing have analysed data collected by the Office for National Statistics about how people in the UK have felt over the course of COVID-19. They found that, unsurprisingly, people reported high anxiety at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020. But by June 2021, people were starting to recover.

“This is what we’d expect,” reads the What Works Wellbeing website. “We don’t like change, but adapt to most things.”

The pandemic also effected different groups of people in different ways. Young people, aged 20-24, reported high anxiety and a big drop in their reported happiness. This age group has struggled to bounce back, too, finding it hard to find their feet again. Meanwhile, people in their late twenties and thirties report higher rates of recovery, and more stability overall.

For older people, the picture is actually rather positive! People aged 65-75 reported the highest levels of satisfaction, happiness, and feeling that the things they do in their life are worthwhile. As the report says, “Positive emotion is an important buffer against difficult circumstances and helps us to cope better with challenges.”

What Works Wellbeing also reported on what people in the UK did to help maintain good mental and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic. Staying connected with family and friends was the most important way people coped. The survey also found that physical activity such as exercising or gardening really helped people to feel well, as did activities like reading, arts and crafts, and listening to the radio. More passive, less creative activities like browsing the internet and watching TV, however, were found to make symptoms of depression worse.

So, what does that mean for Be Well? Mostly this research confirms what we’ve always known – that spending time with people, moving your body and, above all, doing something with purpose are all good for you. Remembering and acting on this is doubly important in difficult times like these.

The pandemic isn’t over, but we are bouncing back and finding ways to adapt to “the new normal”. As long as we can stay connected to our communities and keep finding ways to help the people in them, we’ll find a way through these difficult waters, for all of us.

Tears, Tantrums, and the Ultimate Test: COVID-19

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in different ways. Our activator, Vicky, wrote this piece about her experience of catching COVID-19, and to reassure our readers that what they’re feeling is normal – even if our circumstances aren’t.

Many of our readers will already know me, but for those who don’t, I’m Vicky, the Intergenerational project developer for Be Well. When I was asked to write about how catching COVID-19 had affected me, I was initially anxious as personally I found it very hard and writing down emotions can be a struggle. But, here we go!

Vicky was part of our Easter project in 2021 with Hummingbird Hub which saw 100 Easter eggs deliver to elderly members of our community.

My partner Greg initially caught COVID-19 on January 1st 2022 (Happy New Year…!), with myself and our 2 year old daughter Ada catching it within days of him. Both Ada and I suffer from asthma, so I was terrified about what effect the virus would have on our chests and our health.

Fortunately, we were all very lucky with our symptoms and none of us felt any major effects. Generally it felt like we had the flu, but with extreme fatigue. The body aches weren’t fun and trying to look after ourselves whilst also caring for Ada was a test not only on our parenting skills but our relationship – being stuck in a house for two weeks, feeling unwell, with a dog who won’t stop dropping a ball at your feet, it took its toll!

More distressing was the toll it took on my mental health. It was always at the forefront of my mind how many people had lost their lives to this virus, and this constant awareness had a very destructive effect on my mindset. I personally struggle generally with my mental health anyway, so combining that with being locked in a house for over two weeks (due to the timescale in which Ada was clear as she caught it after us), as well as not seeing anyone and feeling generally run down, I was definitely starting to feel very low.

I am writing this piece to assure you that all of these feelings were normal. This way of living, being locked down and wearing masks and having little to no physical contact is not life as we know it – and most importantly, not as we want it! But for the safety of our loved ones, we have followed the rules and will continue to do so.

I truly hope that 2022 will see an improvement on the situation – and might even get to see someone smiling at us in a supermarket again! But most importantly through all this, we have come out the other side, COVID-19 free, happy and grateful for every day.

At Be Well, our customers are so important and we want to make sure that anyone that wants to talk about COVID or anything for that matter, we are always here for you.

From War Games to Wellness

Chess is one of the oldest games in the world still played today, and can be traced back almost 1500 years to its origins in India.

We wanted to take a look at this extraordinary game, and how it earnt its place as the favourite game of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Stephen Fry – and of our own wonderful Chess Club members! 

The earliest known form of chess was played in India and was called “chaturanga”, a word that means “four divisions.” The name came from the fact that the pieces were supposed to represent the four divisions of an army: infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots. No, you’re not misreading that – elephants were a crucial part of early warfare in this part of the world! 

Over time, the infantry became pawns, the cavalry became knights, the elephants became bishops and the chariots became rooks. The game moved into Persia, and from there spread through the Muslim world under the name “shatranj”. It finally reached Europe through Spain in the first century, and eventually became the game we know today. 

One of the biggest reasons for the enduring popularity of chess it that it is at once extremely easy to learn, and extraordinarily difficult to master. Learning the moves is simple – the rook moves this way, the knight moves that way, easy enough. But with an infinite combination of moves, there is always more to learn and new ways to challenge oneself. 

This mental work-out is one of the reasons we’re so happy our Chess Club is returning, as it’s a fabulous way to build your brain’s muscles. Chess pulls on all sorts of cognitive skills, including pattern recognition and problem solving. 

Chess is also wonderful for your memory. Studies have shown repeatedly that people who play chess have better memories than those who don’t, as well as being better at creative, outside-the-box thinking. 

And best of all, chess is fun! It’s a challenging, interesting game that has been bringing people together all over the world for over a millennium. 

Whether you’re an old hand or looking to learn, you’ll be welcome at our Chess Club. For more information, check out our website or get in touch with David by email at djfpawnpusher@hotmail.com or by telephone at 01457 514654.

Stay active this winter with Be Well!

As the year turns and the weather gets colder, many of us feel the temptation to stay bundled up inside on the sofa with a cup of tea and the telly.

But even in winter, it’s important to keep active where you can – and Be Well can help! 

Our Gentle Walks are continuing throughout December with all the benefits of fresh air, gentle exercise, and socialisation. Click here to see our full schedule. 

Walking is a wonderful way to boost your wellbeing. Not only can it help strengthen your bones and reduce your blood pressure. It also helps build lower-body strength, which improves your balance and helps to prevent falls. 

And as the name suggests, our Gentle Walks are easy going, sociable events that are as much about having a great time as getting active. You’re as likely to get your heart rate up through laughing as from walking!

Research shows that just spending 20 minutes in the park – whether one is exercising or not – is enough to improve someone’s mood. And, in Scotland, GPs have been giving their patients prescriptions to spend time in nature because of the profound benefits to spending time outside.

But let’s be honest – winter in the Peak District is not to be sniffed at! For all the benefits of bundling up and getting out into the fresh air, sometimes it’s good to have the option of staying in.

Our Gentle Dancercise classes are a great, gentle way to keep moving – and stay warm doing it.

Our classes can be taken at your own pace; pick the dances as you go along and step out and take a breather as often as you like. So even if you’re a complete beginner, there’s space for you to join in, let your hair down, and have a boogie! Click here to see our Gentle Dancercise timetable.

Like walking, dancing has a range of health benefits, including improved balance and co-ordination. Learning new dance routines can also help stretch those little grey cells and improve your memory. 

In a survey of older people across the UK who take part in dance activities, the overwhelming majority reported that dancing improved their mood, made them feel more connected to the people around them, and gave them a sense of achievement. 

But above all, Gentle Dancercise is enormous fun, with a soundtrack of hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80 to get moving to – and a well-earned cup of tea at the end. 

So, whether you want to venture into the great outdoors or stay warm inside – or both! – we have a session to suit you. For more information about our Gentle Walks, contact Malcolm on 07841687824 and for information about Gentle Dancercise, contact Jayne on 07590839421. 

The Fine Art of Starting Again

This month in the Be Well Blog, we hear from our Cornwall Correspondent, Jonathan Woods, about the art of starting again after a set-back.

Jonathan lives with a life-limiting disease, and has found it hard to stay active during lockdown. But he’s determined to get active again, one step at a time.

This post is adapted from an article in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the latest edition here.

A photo of Jonathan Woods, a man wearing an orange t-shirt and beige shorts and standing with a walking stick, smiling at the camera
Jonathan lives with a life-limiting disease which affects him both physically and mentally.

I used to be physically active every day, but, during lockdown I found it all too easy not to do anything and I’m struggling to get going again! I tell myself that it’s OK not to do anything and though I know full well the benefits of physical activity, I still don’t do it!

In the past being physically active with other people has been a way of increasing my commitment and forced me (out of loyalty) to be physically active when really I didn’t want to! It also forced me to communicate more clearly and to socialise – neither of which I do naturally!

A physiotherapist once explained to me that I shouldn’t be hard on myself, and that I shouldn’t “see” not being physically active as failure. In her view it was always “better to do something than nothing”.

I suspect that the best thing I could do to restart physical activity is to do a little at a time – say once a week to start with, and see how that goes before trying to do more.

And I also need to make my physical activity different this time around. This will force me to learn something new and interesting and make me extend myself. This should, in turn, also help prevent boredom.

I am sure I will find something new for me – it’s just a matter of making the time to find it, to be flexible and to be open to doing something that I hadn’t expected to do. I also know that I will need to make an effort and find the energy to get started. After which it is easier to do it again. What I really need is Be Well Cornwall!

Quo Vadis, Eat Well

This month in the Be Well Blog, we look back at our popular Eat Well programme, which sought to fight both social isolation and food poverty.

This post is adapted from an article in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the July 2021 edition here.

Eat Well serves up delicious, healthy food for local people

When two young local chefs became concerned about rising levels of food poverty and food waste and the need to fight social isolation the Eat Well journey began.

Eat Well Glossop is the brainchild of James Bouchier and Vicky Murphy, who, seeing the scale of in-date supermarket food being sent to landfill, set out to change the world (or at least that bit of it local to them).

Sourcing main ingredients from FareShare (a national surplus food distributor) and backed by a team of amazing volunteers, Eat Well Glossop started planning, preparing, cooking and serving delicious meals for anyone who wanted to come along.

As Vicky remembers, “Our first event was in November 2017 and we had fifteen customers. People were as likely to eat alongside complete strangers as their neighbours and the whole point was social eating in a friendly atmosphere. There was no charge for the food, and donations went straight to providing the next meal. Before long we were running three sessions a month with 50 to 60 customers per meal.”

However, with the chefs’ growing workloads elsewhere, it was decided to “mothball” Eat Well in early 2020 and bring it back when we could.

And now, thanks to a National Lottery grant, we can! The team has been reconvened over tea and cake and everyone is keen to stay involved. Details are yet to be worked out but we want to involve older people and young children, as well as using produce from Glossop Community Allotment. We are, indeed, cooking with gas.

Kings, knaves, landowners or labourers?

This month in the Be Well Blog, we hear from Be Well Quizzer and heritage researcher Sue Featherston about her quest to learn more about her mysterious great-grandmother.

This post is adapted from the article Sue wrote for us in this month’s Bugle. You can read the full article and all the other great content from the March 2021 edition here.

A photo of Sue Featherston, a blonde woman with glasses, smiling
Sue first got interested in genealogy because of her great-grandmother's exotic name

Sue was intially captivated by her great-grandmother’s name, Elvina Sarah Le Boutillier, French, exotic and fascinating? She had to know more. 

My quest to learn about Elvina began in the Eighties. Pre-internet, this meant squinting at microfilm in the library photographing gravestones, capturing details, dates and family relationships. Slowly my family history took shape, like a giant jigsaw. 

Forty years on, the family tree spans centuries. Elvina’s forebears lived on Sark at the behest of Elizabeth I, defending the island against the French; they were given land as a reward.  My 10-times great grandfather Robert Sloley was the first Judge of Sark, where his house can still be found.  

Not French, Elvina was ‘Jersiaise’. Not exotic, she was from a farming and sea-faring family. Fascinating she remains. How, and why, did she travel to grimy, Victorian Manchester. How did she meet and marry Joe?  

You can now do armchair research 24/7, and it won’t take 40 years! There are free-to-use websites, and organisations like Ancestry and Findmypast which charge subscriptions. Quiz your oldest family members. Don’t put it off. Record family stories; identify photographs; collect BMD certificates; study censuses and parish records. Take a DNA test: mine found two second cousins, and dozens more relatives.  

Be prepared – you will find skeletons in the cupboard; there will also be heroes.  

Find out who you really are. Go on, you know you want to. 

Gary Barlow backs Be Well

To celebrate the inaugural post on our blog, we’re highlighting one of our favourite pieces from the February edition of the Bugle – superstar Gary Barlow showing his support for Be Well!

You can read the rest of this month’s Bugle here.

Last month, Vicky Murphy, our Intergenerational Lead, had the opportunity of a lifetime to chat to her her childhood hero on live radio! 

The interview with Mancunian Gary, whose career started in the boy band Take That, was set up by BBC Radio Manchester after the Glossop Chronicle did an article on the project, which links locked down older people with youngsters by having them writing letters to each other. Gary heard Vicky being interviewed on the Mike Sweeney Show and said he’d like to speak to her. And just after Christmas their chat went out on 40 BBC local stations around the country.

Singer Gary Barlow wearing a white suit during a live performance.
Gary Barlow first found fame in 90s boy band Take That, and has since enjoyed a successful solo career
Vicky is a young woman crouched between two little boys. They are playing indoor curling and laughing.
Vicky works hard to bring people of all ages together, in person when possible and through the Do the Write Thing project when we can't meet in person

“It was like a dream come true,” Vicky told The Bugle. “A month later, I’m still pinching myself!”

Vicky explained Do the Write Thing to Gary: “My job is helping improve older people’s wellbeing using intergenerational activities like singing or reading together. During lockdown, instead of actually bringing them physically together I organised a project where they could write to each other.”

Gary said: “What a brilliant idea you’ve had there! It always amazes me. When you came on Radio Manchester, I thought this personality I’m hearing is going to lead to something great. Well done you and what a brilliant idea.” 

Vicky has, officially, been walking on air ever since.

If you or someone you know – of any age – would like to be part of Do the Write Thing, please ring us on 07590 839421.