Winning a National Lottery Good Causes award would mean a lot to all the users of the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, not least the older members of the community who meet weekly in the Monday Club.
The group came together eight years ago and in that time has gone from strength to strength, with more than 50 members.
The Monday Club offers a wide range of activities for older members of the community, ranging from practical advice relating to benefits and preventing fraud, to social activities such as dancing and bus runs.
The group meetings in the Gasyard Centre each Monday and the centre is usually a hive of activity while they are there.
Volunteer facilitator Bernie Kennedy said the group is member led and responds to the needs and wishes of its members. “There is always a great buzz about the Gasyard Centre on Mondays when the Monday Club meets,” she said.
“We have a range of activities here ranging from gentle exercises, to games, trips away, information events, and dances. All of the members really enjoy it. For some of them it is the only time they get out during the week so it is a great social outlet for people,” she said.
One of the members, Maureen Gallagher, said she particularly enjoys the information events. “I have been coming here from the very beginning and I love it. I never miss it. We have different people coming in to tell us about a whole range of subjects. Last week we had people from the Chest, Heart and Stroke association and they told us what to do if someone has a heart attack.
“We will also have people coming in from the Post Office to tell us about benefits so it is really useful information. As well as that it is really enjoyable. It’s not about serious things; at the end of every month we have a dance on and we have social events at Hallowe’en, Easter, and Christmas,” she said.
Another member of the club, Iris O’Neill said; “I have been coming for four years and it is great. All of the staff and volunteers are great and they would do anything they could to help, nothing is ever a bother to them.
“The thing I enjoy most about the Monday Club is the bus runs. This year we went to Glenveagh National Park and got a tour around and it was fantastic. We stopped for a meal on the way back and everyone had a great day.
“What impresses me about the Monday Club is the amount of different things on offer. I also enjoy the cross-community link up with the community in the Fountain,” she said.
Ted O’Neill, another member of the club, enjoys the games. “In the summer we go bowling and I really enjoy that. We play skittles too and that is good too. I learned how to bowl by coming to the Monday Club.
“It’s great for learning new things. I have been asked to get involved with an allotment which I am looking forward too because I have never done it before, I am hoping I have green fingers,” he said.
Susan Harkin from the Brandywell and Bogside Health Forum appealed for everyone in Derry to support the two local projects in the National Lottery Good Causes final.
“Every single vote counts and there are two ways people can vote, online and by telephone.
“We have always enjoyed the support of the local community and I would ask people to vote for us, and Achieving Something Special, so that we can have two winners from Derry. That would be a great achievement for this area but it can only happen if people vote and keep on voting. They can vote up to ten times,” she said.