As a new member of the Time to Shine team, with responsibility for supporting some of our delivery partners, I am keen to get out to meet the delivery partners in action and to meet some of the people who are benefiting from the projects.
Today I went, with Rob Cook (Time to Shine Communications Officer) to see ‘Float Your Boat’ in action. We were made so welcome by Alan Bolton who manages the project, and his band of volunteer skippers and crew, as we climbed aboard one of their narrowboats. The kettle was already – hot drinks were really needed today as the temperature was below freezing. In fact we had been given a safety talk about boarding the boat in the icy conditions! There was also a lovely smell of a sausage casserole coming from the stove which was to be served for lunch midway through our trip!
As we meandered along the waterways into central Leeds the crew members told us of how they had come to be involved with the project. Their stories were varied but it was clear that the peace and tranquillity of sailing along at such a gentle pace gave them all a real sense of wellbeing. One man told of suffering depressions throughout his life but said that in the year since getting involved on the boats, he has not experienced any!
Another man talked of losing his wife and the loneliness he felt and how his neighbour encouraged him to join him one day down at Thwaite Mill. That was now several months ago and he spends every Wednesday here now.
In the galley, serving the sausage stew at lunchtime, one gentleman told me that he joined Float Your Boat every week and that he would only be stuck at home if he didn’t. I commented how busy this crew was keeping him but he said he liked to have something to do!
This was the second project that I have managed to see so far. Both Float Your Boat and Bee Together Café have given me a real sense of what a difference the Time to Shine projects are making to the lives of some of the older people who they reach. I feel privileged to be involved in Time to Shine and am looking forward to meeting more people and seeing more projects in action!
Programme Manager (Legacy)