The Cambridge Care and Craft Group marked its 42nd birthday earlier this month with a special tea for its members.
Since starting in 1977, their weekly gatherings have provided a rich source of companionship and activities for those coming along. The group began by providing people in the community – across all ages and abilities – an opportunity to socialise and enjoy a selection of craft-oriented activities and games. In those early days, said a member who has been going since the mid-1980s, there were around 70 people each week. Numbers are now down to around 20, but the engagement is just as lively.
Several members come over from Te Awamutu on a weekly basis.
Nicky Booth and Jeanette Watt have been steering the group for the past couple of years, following the retirement of one-time supervisor Beverley O’Callaghan and three volunteers. Nicky and Jeanette help set it all up, organise the teas and the always-popular sales table, and fill a weekly raffle basket.
“For 20 cents a ticket, they get various items from the basket – so the whole thing doesn’t go to just one person,” said Nicky.
She said some of those coming along enjoy knitting and other crafts, some paint or colour in, others make bathmats.
“Care is at the heart of the group, which means we pay special attention to how we look after those coming in. The coffees are all lined up on one side, the teas on the other – people quickly get to know the system and feel right at home. The idea is to provide a comfortable place where people can enjoy the company of others – it helps prevent social isolation in the community.”
The group meets every Monday from 9am to 12 noon at the Senior Citizens Hall in Cambridge’s Milicich Place. Members pay a nominal weekly rate to cover the cost of the tea, and the Senior Citizens Association leases the hall to them at a special rate.
Nicky said the group was keen on bringing new members on board. They’re also looking for new volunteers, people who would be available to help host the sessions for a few hours each Monday morning.
“We need more people who can help us set up the tables and take them down at the end of the session, and perhaps assist through the morning,” she said. “There is also a need for someone who might be willing to help transport members who can’t get there under their own steam. If someone was to help us with that, we would look at reimbursing them their petrol costs.”
Anyone willing to help as a volunteer, or who is interested in joining the group, is asked to contact Nicky Booth on 07-823 7445 or 022 517 2719, or just pop into the hall on any Monday after 9am.