When Cyndy went along to the knitting group at Cumberland Park Community Centre she expected to pick up stitches – instead she picked up a new best friend!
Cyndy and Carol hit it off immediately, so when Cyndy, a former roller-skating champion, heard her new friend wanted to learn how to roller-skate she knew she was the woman for the job. “Carol told me she was going to buy herself a pair of roller-skates and skate around her house. Well I didn’t think this was the best idea,” Cyndy laughs, “So I told her I would take her skating.”
So Cyndy, Carol and their husbands went up to a roller-skating session at Blackwood Recreation Centre and had a brilliant time. Cyndy has skated all her life. In her 20s, despite being married and a busy mum of two, she placed second in figure skating and third in free skating at the Australian National Skating Championships. In recent years she has been teaching her four grandchildren to skate.
For Cyndy, going along to Cumberland Park Community Centre for the first time wasn’t easy. She had been taking part in a few activities to try to meet new people, such as regularly going to the gym, and while she had friends at activities, she found it hard to grow the friendships outside of them.
“I was a bit nervous at first,” said Cyndy. “I only went because a friend had taken me along but soon, I was helping out in the kitchen, the craft area and knitting. Then they found out I could sew and I got involved in a project knitting toiletries bags for people in need, so it has all gone really well. I also met Carol who is now a great friend.”
ECH Connections Lead, Sharon Beech has loved having Cyndy along on a Wednesday at Cumberland Park Community Centre. “I call her the queen of desserts because she is so wonderful at whipping up cakes,” she said. “She has so many talents. She’s arty, crafty, she knits and sews, and has become a really valued member of the Cumby Crew – which is what we call ourselves.” Sharon explains that Cyndy’s situation is not uncommon among older people in the community: “It’s very hard for people to push through the challenges of feeling socially disconnected and say, ‘I’m going to do something for myself’. It can take a lot of courage for someone to walk into a new place or activity for the first time, but that’s where we can help and provide support through offering welcoming community spaces.”
Since stepping through the door of Cumberland Park Community Centre, Cyndy has never looked back. “Going to Cumberland Park has made a big difference to my life. It’s a warm and welcoming environment, you get to know everyone and it’s a really lovely, friendly group,” says Cyndy. “It’s my happy time, so I make sure I schedule all my other appointments around it so I don’t miss it, its very special.”
The ECH Connections Team can help to support people who want to expand their social circle but are not sure where to begin, call 1300 275 324 to find out more.