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News 19 June 2017 l Health & wellbeing

The Black Elders’ links to the past boost wellbeing in the present

Formed in the mid 1990s, the Black Elders Day Centre originally met once a week to provide soup and a meeting place for the local black community.

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The idea behind the group was to maintain cultural connections and enable the shared enjoyment of traditional food and activities. Within a year, the Centre had become so popular that the hours were extended, with increasing numbers of people benefitting from the social, recreational and educational aspects that the group offers.

Currently the group meets twice weekly at a Hanover Extra Care Housing estate in Gloucester. Its members range from 55 to 90+ years and most are of Jamaican origin, with a few being of other racial orientation. Making connections with their cultural heritage via the group can prove invaluable to some of the younger, British-born members’ sense of identity. Displaying a typical old-style community spirit, everyone looks out for each other, particularly in times of illness or need. It also provides a much-needed break for the elders’ carers. Research shows that spending time with people of a similar cultural background may be beneficial both physically and mentally, and that lives can be enriched as a result.

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With good community links to enable talks on a variety of subjects, the Centre has provided regular advisory sessions on illnesses that particularly affect black people. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia and prostate cancer. Information leaflets are made available at the sessions for the elders to share with their families. Blood donor sessions may also soon be on the cards, as some sought-after rare blood groups are more prevalent among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Other popular educational sessions include talks from the police and fire services. 

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Traditional games, such as dominos, are particularly popular with the Black Elders’ gentlemen, while the ladies regularly watch DVDs together and enjoy outings to shopping malls and garden centres. Music naturally plays a big part in Afro-Caribbean culture, therefore the monthly visits by the Bristol Golden Oldies singing group are eagerly anticipated! The sing-a-long sessions they provide include songs that are special to the black community, taken from genres as diverse as classic ballads, reggae, gospel and rock ’n roll.

If you would like to go along or find out more about the Black Elders Day Centre, please visit Your Circle Gloucestershire for contact details. 

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