South Wales Oddfellows say they provide opportunities for older adults in Swansea and across South Wales to make local friendships.
John Marvelley, the group’s Swansea-based social organiser, said the idea to leave yellow roses around the city is a way to reach more people who could benefit from their friendly group’s regular meet-ups.
So far, more than a 200 yellow roses – a flower which represents friendship – have been knitted and distributed for residents to find in both Cardiff and Swansea.
John said: “September is Friendship Month for our organisation and it’s when we put extra effort into reaching people who may not know who we are, but who would benefit from the friendly activities which take place.
“We thought the knitted roses would be a nice thing for our members to get involved in creating and sharing, and hopefully they will bring a smile to someone’s face too!”
The roses have been knitted by members of the South Wales Oddfellows and the Swansea Yarn Bombers, a street art group which makes crochet and knitted creations to decorate the town.
The yellow roses are a gentle reminder for older residents to assess their social wellbeing.
John added: “Your friendship needs and circle of friends can alter dramatically in later life.
“We often talk about the dangers of loneliness on our health, but you don’t have to be lonely to need new friends. In fact, it’s important to your social wellbeing to have a well-rounded friendship group – which includes new friends, pals with shared hobbies and interests and friends who challenge and support you.
“We’ve a wonderful range of personalities and people here at the Oddfellows. September’s the perfect time to try us out as we’ve some great Friendship Month events lined up, as well as our usual warm welcome,” added John.
Events planned in Swansea include a special Friendship Month coffee morning at the Environment Centre, Pier Street, at 10.30am on Wednesday 6 September, a trip to St Fagans (Museum of Welsh Life) on Wednesday 13 September. There are also plans for a coffee morning at the Hybrid Arts Centre in Neath on Wednesday 27 September, at 10.30am.
Psychologist, author and friend of the Oddfellows, Dr Denise Taylor, echoes the importance of checking in on how you feel about your friendships, especially as you get older and circumstances change.
She said: “As we journey through life, we can go through many stages of transition – retirement, relocation, losing loved ones, which mean that some friendships may slip away.
“I advise taking stock of your friendship network at regular stages in your life, look at your own social wellbeing and identify what needs to change to ensure you feel fulfilled and supported by those around you.”
Dr Denise has provided her top tips on how to assess your friendships and identify if there are any areas for improvement.
- Shared interests: Hobbies are a fantastic way to keep you motivated, and sharing them with a friend makes it much more enjoyable. If you don’t have someone to do the things you enjoy with, perhaps now is the time to find someone to share your passions with.
- Emotional support: A problem shared is a problem halved. Do you have a confidante in your social circle you can reach out to? It’s not uncommon to find that friendships decline as we age, often due to changes in circumstances and lifestyle. The good news is, it’s never too late to expand your social circle and develop new, valuable friendships.
- Joy in friendship: Whether it’s a casual acquaintance or a life-long friend, one friendship we should all have is one that simply brings joy. If you’ve identified there’s room for more friends, then take action. There are plenty of groups you can connect with, or, if that feels a little daunting, perhaps you could start by simply smiling at someone in the street. Even the smallest connections can bring joy.
- Sense of purpose: We are sociable beings and being socially connected is crucial to our health and wellbeing. We need to feel like we matter. As we get older and our life goes through transitions, we can often feel like the connections we used to have are no longer there. Perhaps now is the time to put some effort in reigniting friendships or finding new ones?
- Diversity:There’s a lot to be said about making new friends. Not only do they reinvigorate you, they also present new opportunities and perspectives. Whether you haven’t had time to make new friends, or you don’t know where to start, you won’t regret putting some effort into finding new friends.
Dr Denise added: “It’s not one-size-fits-all when it comes to an ideal mix of friends. It’s about identifying what you value, and doing something about it.”
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