SWAN Womens Centre coffee afternoon has been running for over 10 years.
Lynda Benson is the coffee afternoon’s Facilitator.
She said: “I got involved with the coffee afternoon many years ago. I was amazed to find that I had many shared experiences with other women who attended the group and so I decided that I wanted to start a social group for women. We would put the world to rights over a coffee.
“I would say these coffee mornings and afternoons are so valuable to anyone who attends. I can clearly see as time has gone by, that many people who attend them may not have had any social interaction for most of the week. This may be due to ill health, loneliness or not knowing what or where to turn to when they have been feeling anxious, depressed or just not feeling great. A smiling face and a gentle whisper of ‘It will pass, I promise.’ and 'Don’t be afraid’ makes a huge difference.
“If you are feeling uncomfortable, then feel free to come and go as you please. There is no pressure to stay for the whole 2 hours. No one is there to tell you how it is done or what to do. You are simply taking time to out to live and love yourself again. Some of the women who attend the afternoon gave their thoughts about how it has impacted them and why others should give it a try."
One woman said: “I found out about the coffee afternoon from when I was receiving treatment in hospital, my CPN advised me to attend it to socialise and maybe even make friends.
“I have been coming and going from SWAN for about 15 years now, mainly when unwell, it feels like a drop in for me where I am not going to be judged.
“I like to take part in the quiz as it keeps my mind active, you are not ruled out as we are put into groups. I am never judged. It is such good fun, and takes away stress of everyday life. Lynda encourages me to love myself more. I feel on an off day it is OK to just be myself feel accepted without questions being asked. I leave feeling more positive than when I had arrived.
“I would say that you do not have to be alone, you soon realise other ladies feel similar or have had experience of mental well-being and support comes from other members."
Another woman said: “I found out about the SWAN Centre through supported living it was the best move I made I have never looked back. I have been attending the coffee afternoon for around six months now.
“I enjoy meeting new friends. Lynda make me feel included, plus I get a break from seeing care workers. I would not manage without my care workers, but I need a break from them, really. I get a sense of understanding from the group.
"For a few months I didn’t talk much and now I can’t wait to get involved. I love playing bingo. Whatever game is going on that week I get involved because it is OK to take part. Some weeks we chat and I have made new friends which I have not done for years and everyone seems so caring here. I do not like being a big girl but even my weight does not bother me when I’m there because I feel comfortable in my surroundings.
“It has ended my isolation. It makes me sad to think I had no one who cared in my life but taking these steps has proved you do have a choice just take the step and see.”
The coffee afternoon is every Thursday from 1pm- 3pm. You can just drop in but if you want to talk to Lynda first you can ring her on 0151 933 3292 or email her. All women welcome.