Every Monday older and disabled residents of Sutton meet at Sangam, a group which has been bringing people together for over 25 years for friendship, fun and new connections.
Sangam is a Sanskrit word that means ‘a meeting place where rivers from all directions merge’. So it’s fitting that the group welcomes people from different communities to gather under one roof.
It is vital for older people to get together, share food, exercise and friendship to feel less isolated. We are part of the Sangam family and look after each other.”
Chairperson Nali Patel said: “It is vital for older people to get together, share food and friendship to feel less isolated. We are part of the Sangam family and look after each other.” Members celebrate festivals including Eid, Christmas and Diwali and enjoy summer seaside trips.
Nali contracted polio as a baby which left her with limited mobility. She joined Sangam when she came to the UK 20 years ago. “I found friends and a community I have known for years and joined the committee and have ended up as chair,” she said.
Nali also volunteered at Sutton College as a teacher and served as a councillor. Recently she has been trained in measuring blood pressure so will be offering members a check in the club too.
If members of the club face challenging times or issues with healthcare, Nali connects them to the right help. The club organises chair-based exercise session for 45 minutes. Fitness instructor Claire leads the class to help strength, cardio and flexibility. She said: “Everyone is so enthusiastic, and it helps coordination, bone density and keeps the members active.”
I am a social animal and like to get out of the house every day.”
After losing loved ones to Covid, one member was introduced to Sangam by her sister-in-law. She said: “I am a social animal and like to get out of the house every day. I have also found friends from my home country Kenya. The group has a pleasant atmosphere, and we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries of our members.”
Another member, who lives with visual impairment, comes along every week and said: “I love the Sangam club and joined 25 years ago. The chair-based exercise keeps me going. It is food for your brain with intelligent conversation from friends and good company as well. When my daughter got married, friends from the group came for the four days of celebrations and cooked for us and were so kind.”
Group members are offered vaccinations at the club, including Covid-19 boosters, together with advice on healthy living, diet and diabetes. Community navigators will be visiting the group to offer health checks on Monday 25 September.
New members welcome
Nali welcomes new members, who can come along to meetings held every Monday from 11am to 2pm at the Granfers Community Centre, Oakhill Road, Sutton, SM1 3AA.