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Member spotlight: All Sorts Activities Club

All Sorts Activities Club - Bernera

10 January 2024

By Colin Halliday, Secretary and Treasurer of All Sorts Activities Club, Bernera, Isle of Lewis

The All Sorts Activities club on the small island of Bernera, just off the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, was formed in 2016 to provide a weekly social club for older residents where all are welcome and can take part in activities including board games, quizzes, talks and of course home baking with tea and coffee. Members provide some of the best home baked cakes and scones as they love baking but would not do it just for themselves, giving them something they enjoy doing and the rest of us a good feed.

We have had some different members over the years but our numbers have stayed about the same, with about seven regular attendees plus from time to time family visitors, including grandchildren, who come along when visiting relatives. Many of our members live alone in our small rural crofting community on the island and really enjoy and look forward to the meetings on a Wednesday afternoon, which we have all year round, with the exception being during the Covid lockdowns.

Since the beginning we have been members of Age Scotland and have been fortunate to be supported with small grants to help cover the cost of room rental for our meetings in the Bernera Community Centre, fuel costs for picking up members so that they can attend meetings and for refreshments.

Fundraising in a small community if not always easy, although we have done so by selling quizzes in our community café to locals and tourists, as well as receiving donations from local Lewis groups who want to give something back to the general community.

In 2022 we had a three-day trip to Iona using the funds we had built up, for a small number of our group, one car load, as a destination some had never been to by always wanted to see.

However, for 2023 with the increasing costs of hotels, fuel and ferries we could not afford a trip to the mainland and so decided that we would try and have a monthly day trip during the summer to different parts of Lewis and Harries. We were lucky enough to receive a grant from Age Scotland under the Keeping the Doors Open scheme which helped us cover the cost of the hall rental plus fuel and lunches for our trips.

On our trips we have visited Ness museum in the north of Lewis, Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on the west side, the Iolaire memorial near Stornoway, the Isle of Scalpy in Harries and Rodal Church in the south of Harries after traveling south on the Golden Road. We have covered nearly 900 miles on these days out. A major part of the trips has been having lunch at different hotels, and of course afternoon tea as well. For those of us who live alone and have to do all our cooking and cleaning, being able to eat out is a great treat.

It may amaze you, since some of our members are born and bred on Lewis, but an often heard comment during our days out is ‘I have never been here and it is beautiful’. It is pleasing that not only are we able to take people away for a day trip and give them something to look forward to, as well as a good meal, but we are enabling them to see places of their home island that they have never been to.

Our aim is to provide members with a warm and safe place to meet socially, encourage them to take part in activities that help stimulate the mind and body and to let them get out of their houses and see places they may never have been to, or not for a very long time, and so help with their health and wellbeing. We feel that we are successful in this with the help of Age Scotland.