“The Extra Time Hubs Zoom session with Bolton Wanderers Community Trust has become the highlight of our week.”

Whilst loneliness can be experienced by anyone at any stage of their life, it is often older people who find constant loneliness hardest to overcome and they lack the friendship and support we all need.

 ‘’When my wife and I retired we missed being part of the community. Extra Time Hubs was exactly what we were looking for.” Says Andy who has been a regular at Bolton Wanderers Extra Time Hub this year. 

EFL Trust’s Extra Time Hub sessions are delivered by 11 EFL Clubs and are designed for those aged 55. With support from National Lottery funding from Sport England the Hubs are designed to engage retired and semi-retired people by harnessing the power of their local football clubs and to combat both loneliness and inactivity.

Andy continued: “In the last 12 months both myself and my wife have recently retired from full time employment.  Both being supporters & season ticket holders at Bolton Wanderers on attending a football match we saw an advertisement for the Extra Time Hub at the Club.”

“We both had difficult jobs within the Police and the NHS respectively which involved a lot of interaction & communication with members of the public & the community. Having retired, suddenly we both found that we missed being part of the community. “

“We made enquires and found that the BWFC Extra Time Hub was what we were looking for, apprehensively we attended our first group meeting.  We meet people who we didn’t know, who we have never seen or spoken too before. But enjoyed what this new group had to offer. “

“We soon found that within the group there were a number of like-minded people who had a passion or interest in BWFC.  Within the group we found singles, married couples a mixture of people with very different interests & backgrounds, but they had the same aim to befriend like-minded people.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the BWFC Hub have not physically been able to get together.  Andy believes that some of the members were dependent or relied on the weekly communication and contact with the group, would have really struggled have the Community Trust not quickly made plans to say in touch.  

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He says: “As members rely on the weekly routine attending and meeting the group. I feel that suddenly not being able to be involved with the group could have had some impact on their well-being or mental health due to the lockdown, self-isolation or shielding.

“Having to stop all social interaction, the Wanderers staff saw straight away the need to seek ways of keeping everyone connected.

“They arranged for contact to continue by the way of a simple telephone call or a text message. Then they created a Whatsapp group for its members and a Zoom group for meetings and general communication giving the Extra Time Hubs group an opportunity to be involved online.”

The regular phone call, a text message, a WhatsApp quiz or zoom communication that the BWFC CT has organised to its members of the different groups has ensured that they are not alone or isolated, the regular contact has ensured that everyone has a daily contact.

Something another member of the group Stella, really appreciates. “I honestly say that when we did the first Extra Time Hubs Zoom I think it was the first time that I had laughed so much since the lockdown started I have contact with family but they have busy lives. It’s so nice seeing everyone after so long thank you for keeping in touch.”

This is a view also shared by married couple Kathleen and Mick who say: “The Zoom session is our highlight of the week and the only time that we really ‘see’ people to have a laugh with.

“I know we are a couple but we can’t see our family and grandchildren although we talk on the phone and WhatsApp.

“The Extra Time Hubs Whatsapp group and Zoom session makes us feel as though we have contact with other like-minded people and gives us something to talk about apart from ‘what’s on the telly’.”