A group set up to by a Holbeach couple to improve lives including their daughter’s has proved to be a huge success.
SociABLES has already added an extra day to accommodate demand after its first six months running.
And charity Shine Lincolnshire has now provided at least three years of further funding to continue the sessions at Tonic Health’s Holbeach Hub.
The group brings together people who have an additional need.
It already has a host of success stories, not least of all for Chloe (24), the daughter of AJ and Rob Simpson who created SociABLES.
Chloe has the mental capacity of a seven-year-old and previous sessions she had attended at Capricorn Cottage ended with COVID and never reopened.
AJ says her daughter regressed after not having these social sessions, and with nothing else around she and Rob who project leads the Holbeach Hub, set up SociABLES.
“The idea was to promote mental health and wellbeing for those with an additional need,” she said “It doesn’t matter what that need is.
“It could be a physical disability, they’ve got something such as dyslexia or we now get referrals from the job centre.
“Chloe’s a big reason I do this.
“She lost her sessions before and just getting her out of the house and interacting with others is huge.
“I’ve never in her life seen her smile as much as I have her since we started these sessions.
“We’ve also got the likes of Martin Smith who came here incredibly shy and is now being trained as a volunteer to help run the groups. He’s come on so far and has even met his girlfriend here.”
“I’d say I was borderline agoraphobic,” said 23-year-old Martin, from Long Sutton, who is also set to take on the project’s social media channels.
“I came here as my carer suggested it. Right from the start everyone has been so understanding and welcoming.
“They’re all good guys and helped me settle in.
“It’s definitely helped me come out of my shell by providing somewhere to go and people to speak to.
“I certainly couldn’t handle a relationship before, but now I’ve met Zoe.
“I’ve also got really good at ping pong.”
Sessions are on Wednesdays and now also Fridays from 10am.
There is a host of crafts, food and games on site to keep everyone entertained.
They also have the use of the sports hall where football, archery, basketball, table tennis, swingball and cricket can all be played.
To celebrate the SociABLES Friday session, there was a pyjama party.
Refreshments included a date and apple cobbler, made by Tonic Health’s Community Cafe in Surfleet.
Members also took part in Joe Wicks exercises, inspired by books which had been donated by Shine Lincolnshire.
Ongoing projects include creating a garden to be accessible by all of the attendees and a packed series of events organised by AJ.
“She just goes above and beyond,” said husband Rob. “She struggles with fibromyalgia but still takes part in all the games and activities.
“To get all this up and running and for it to be such a success in the first six months is huge.
“We’re now delighted we’ve got another three years being able to provide this service.”