People have just over 48 hours to back a bid for funding by a popular hub for the older generation.
Community interest company Endeavour in Ellesmere Port is hoping to reach the finals of the Aviva Community Fund with the chance of winning up to £10,000.
Voting closes at midnight on Saturday (May 30) and it already has over 1,000 votes.
The hub, founded by Paula Collins, has moved into refurbished premises on the town’s historic high street providing a variety of activities and entertainment including demonstrations, talks, music, games along with morning and afternoon refreshments and a freshly prepared two-course meal at lunch time
The social hub runs from 10am to 2pm every Tuesday and Thursday with a luncheon club from noon to 2.30pm every Wednesday.
The aim is to give clients an enjoyable and memorable day where they can meet up with and make new friends each week.
It seeks to encourage getting out and mixing with others who are like minded, preventing social isolation as well as promoting health and wellbeing.
Paula says: “Being alone and lonely in the latter years of life has become the subject of widespread media coverage, receiving much airtime and many newspaper editorials with frequent stories of the elderly’s plight.
“As generations go by we are living longer. This brings along a series of problems particularly for those who find themselves lonely and alone. This can be as a result of losing a partner, losing close friends, family moving away or being moved into specialised accommodation as a result of illness or poor health.”
She explains: “I started Endeavour just one day a week offering activities, talks, demonstrations and games along with a freshly prepared meal at lunch time and refreshments morning and afternoon.
“Within weeks we had a full house, I was cooking, organising, arranging, attending meetings, recruiting volunteers and involving my local council and councillors who were most helpful in getting Endeavour off the ground.
“By early 2014 it became clear that Endeavour was here for the long haul.
“There was a regeneration scheme offering organisations such as mine the chance to occupy a fully refurbished shop in the high street.
“Of course I jumped at the chance to have a dedicated building which could be fitted out exactly for the purpose of running Endeavour. We are now able to open more days as we have great facilities and a shop window in a central location.
“Loneliness is a killer. When you live alone in old age it usually means you are alone and lonely, stuck between four walls with no visitors, day in day out and no one to talk to.
“Shopping and cooking for one is a chore and difficult if you have health problems. It is a proven fact, through statistics about our ageing population, that loneliness can cause ill health and depression, especially in old age.
“Endeavour was created to prevent loneliness and social isolation, to bring old people back into society, to promote health and well-being.
“Our aim is to get these people out of their homes and bring them together. A reason to get up in the morning, somewhere where they enjoy going, somewhere they can meet with others and converse, somewhere they can have fun and laugh together, enjoy a meal with others.”
She points out: “Most are living alone, many do not have the means to get out as they no longer have driving licences or are not on a bus route and there are those who do not have the ability to go out on their own due to health problems.
“We offer a subsidised door to door mini bus service to and from the centre utilising a local community bus company which utilise volunteer drivers who are there to assist those who have difficulty getting on and off. There is even a lift for those who cannot climb the steps.
“This has probably been the most decisive factor in people coming to Endeavour and although we offer this service on a subsidised basis, we would be able to encourage more people to leave the confines of their homes if the service were free of charge as many lone pensioners only have limited funds.
“Endeavour is a Community Interest Company not for profit organisation and we have recently applied to the Charity Commission for charitable status. All the funds raised are ploughed back into the running of the organisation, paying for the many costs associated with such an operation.
“The clients who attend are frequently very vocal about the difference it makes to their lives and how they feel they now have a purpose in life once again.”
Vote to back Paula through https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/Project/View/2407.