Living their best lives – What Inspired residents think about community

From woodland walks and staying fit, to cultivating thriving allotments and making new friends, Inspired residents are living their best lives and enjoying being part of vibrant communities.

Earlier this year, we commissioned a survey to find out what over 65s think today. The results found that 52% of respondents don’t think there is a strong sense of community in the UK and 62% of these people most want to bring back the sense of security you get from knowing your neighbours would look out for you.

The survey also found that 61% of people would like to have a sense of pride in the appearance and vibrancy of where they live, whilst 58% would like to see more conversation and interaction between neighbours.

With this is mind, we spoke to some Inspired residents to find out what community means to them.

Outdoor pursuits

Residents Dave Lewinton, 75, and his wife, Susan, 74, of Great Alne Park say being outside in the fresh air and being part of a community is important as you get older.

Dave comments: “Since we’ve been here we’ve got a small allotment and have been growing basil, parsley and chives, and also potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, cabbages, courgettes, leeks, runner beans, corn on the cob, parsnips and lettuce.

“We’ve also joined a bowls club in Stratford-upon-Avon. We do bits and pieces at the village too, I like going to the gym and swimming and it’s easy to get into an exercise routine here at the village.

“I think it’s important to be part of a community and it certainly helps having friends and neighbours here. If you’re in a house on an estate you usually know one or two people, but here you know everybody. We all see each other and say hello and socialise in the restaurant and bar at coffee mornings, lunches and dinners.  We’re much more sociable than we used to be.”

Newfound friends

John, 88, of Gifford Lea, says he has made a whole host of new friends since moving to the village and the safe community has transformed his life and helped him to feel less lonely.

John comments: “Before I moved to Gifford Lea I was living on my own in a house with three storeys, five bedrooms and two acres of garden and I was having the upmost difficulty coping and needed to downsize.

“My apartment now is set in the middle of Gifford Lea and there are gardens and flowerbeds around it, I have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a very nice sitting room and I’m happy as Larry.

“I feel very safe and secure at the village. I think safety is the principle plus of the whole place. I feel intently cared for and have a lovely housekeeper who helps around the house, she’s wonderful.

“Living at Gifford Lea has transformed my life, if I wasn’t living here I don’t know what I would be doing. Being part of a community and having friends or neighbours nearby to chat to is desperately important.

“Living at the village has definitely helped me to feel less lonely and isolated, I’m 88 and I’ve made a dozen or more very good friends here. There aren’t many people over 80 who make that make that many new friends, it’s very exciting!”.

New hobbies

For Carol Parkinson, 80, moving to Bramshott Place three years ago was “the best move I ever made”. Carol’s husband sadly passed away in October 2016 and Carol said: “If I hadn’t moved, I would have been quite lonely, we had a large house and garden, and when my husband passed, I decided it was the best time to move – I’ve never looked back.”

Carol enjoys volunteering behind the village bar and at the village shop, as well as taking part in line dancing and Scottish dancing sessions.

“I’ve certainly not felt lonely during lockdown, the village grounds are 50 odd acres, so I like to go for woodland walks with a friend and look at the baby ducklings on the pond. You can go for a 40-minute walk, but you end up seeing a dozen people and stopping to chat so that walk turns into an hour and a half,” she commented.

Meanwhile, Mary Ewing, 78, who lives at Durrants Village agrees that it would be hard to be lonely in an Inspired village: “If you can’t make friends here, you’ve got no hope!”

Mary organises pool pilates once a week at the village and comments: “There’s really something for everyone to enjoy; bridge, painting, singing, and it’s easy to make friends if you join something you enjoy.”

A virtual community

Whether you’re an Inspired resident or not, we’d love for you to join our Virtual Village Centre on Facebook. This resource, available to everyone, provides home exercise videos created by the villages’ wellness navigators, recipes from our head chefs, gardening tips from our Head of Horticulture and much more to help keep you entertained throughout lockdown.

For Veronica Pert, 65, of Millbrook, Inspired’s online exercise classes, as well as YouTube workouts and regular walks have helped her feel fitter than ever. Veronica comments: “I’ve been using Zoom for virtual exercise classes at Millbrook, such as ‘stretch and tone’ with wellness navigator Leah Jackson. Before Covid-19, I attended the actual classes, so using Zoom has helped the residents to continue taking part through the pandemic. I also like the recipes and free exercise classes that are put on there.”

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