There is a growing elderly African and Caribbean population in London, with the ‘Windrush Generation’ now in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. To help tackle social isolation, the Sutton African and Caribbean Cultural Organisation (SACCO) set up Friendship Fridays as a space for the ‘Older and Wiser’ to come together.
Meeting fortnightly at Sutton Lodge, members sit, chat, or just take in the conversation around them. There’s no pressure to contribute and it’s a calm and welcoming place for everyone. This atmosphere is what retired psychotherapist Emerald loves about the group.
It’s very open and we talk about everything. That’s the joy of this group – you can talk freely.Emerald
“It’s also got a different flavour to other things I go to where you might be made to do a certain activity. Here you can make your own space, you can be quiet or get involved. Often, I just listen and take it all in.”
SACCO also encourages members to share experiences from their life and talk about their culture and background. This is why Elizabeth was keen to join in.
“I moved to Sutton in 2010 and didn’t know many people from my own background. By joining Friendship Fridays, I could hear what was happening locally, as well as sharing experiences from my home.”
As well as socialising, some meetups have different speakers, activities, or exercises as part of the afternoon. For example, group member Sonia, who spent most of her life working in the NHS, gave a talk about mindfulness and the different techniques people can use.
It’s for everyone and encompasses community.Theresa, Office Manager at SACCO
On Friday 27 January NHS South West London also supported a winter wellbeing event for Friendship Fridays. This was part of our Voluntary Sector Funding. At this session we shared used information on how to stay well and access NHS services. A local GP also joined us to provide Covid vaccines to anyone who needed them.
Finally, the afternoon ends with a shared dinner. Office Manager Theresa first became involved with SACCO and Friendship Fridays because of this feeling of community.
“When my dad had dementia, I used to take him to the day care centre. But, it was hard to find somewhere where he could hear his language and culture. It made me think what about other older people, who don’t have family to care for them. And that is what SACCO is all about, it’s for everyone and encompasses community.”
About the Sutton African and Caribbean Cultural Organisation
The Sutton African and Caribbean Cultural Organisation (SACCO) was formally Black History Group and has been around for a long time (circa 2009). In 2019 SACCO was formed and gained charitable status under its current name.
SACCO runs a host of events, groups and activities to help people of African and Caribbean heritage to be more involved in the local community.
They also runs a varied schedule of events throughout the year for the wider community with extra events held during Black History Month celebrating our culture.