Bramley Elderly Action (BEA) is a Neighbourhood Network which supports older people (aged 60+) in Bramley, Swinnow and parts of Stanningley Leeds to remain healthy, active and involved in the community. The group has approximately 1,000 members and 150 volunteers. BEA is just one of the 35 Neighbourhood Networks that flourish in Leeds.
What are Neighbourhood Networks? They are community based, locally led organisations which help older people live independently and actively participate within their own communities. They provide services that reduce social isolation, provide opportunities for volunteering, act as a “gateway” to advice/ information services, and promote health and wellbeing improving the quality of life for individuals. They are funded by Leeds City Council and other organisations, but are managed and run by the members themselves.
Fran Graham, Operations Manager, BEA / Bramley Lawn / OWLS / UpBEAt tells us more about what people can do when they join BEA.
BEA runs activities for older people to get involved in seven days a week, from singing, playing ukulele, to games and bingo, to dance, exercise and tai chi, to supported shopping, a variety of trips to suit all needs, befriending, to intergenerational meals restaurant nights and support for lunch clubs and many more activities.
We also support people with certain long term health conditions, and carers, to live active lives. Remember Thursdays is an innovative programme of film, music, food and company for anyone affected by dementia. West Leeds Stroke Club offers a programme of activities and opportunities for valuable peer support. Alongside this work our Community Social Worker is focussed on helping frail, socially isolated older people to address the complex barriers that prevent them from having a happier life.
Everything we do at BEA is underpinned by helping prevent local older people become, or remain, lonely or socially isolated, and stay connected to friends, family and community. Our exercise class was recently featured on ITV Calendar News, broadcast on the same day that the Prime Minister announced the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness with our General Manager, Lee Ingham, present at Prime Minister’s Question Time. We are delighted that the important work of reducing social isolation is recognised and to be part of that effort at a local level, as the bigger picture nationally continues to develop.
As one older man said: “Men’s Day at Bramley Lawn changed my life. I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t come.”
Formed in 1994, BEA has continually developed. In 2014 we took on Bramley Lawn (previously a Social Services day centre) and have successfully transformed it into a vibrant community social centre. While holding some BEA activities there, it is also available to people of all ages to use. We are now embarking on an exciting new era, having moved in to manage Bramley Community Centre as custodians of an important space for community gatherings, learning and fun.
Bramley Community Centre has been part of local life for many years but before we moved in on 2nd January 2018, its future was looking uncertain. BEA members and volunteers were keen to make sure that this important community resource stayed open. It’s a place where people have met their life-partner, made friends and learnt new skills. It has been home to youth clubs, jumble sales, wedding receptions, dance classes, a History Society, Tea Dances, Tai Chi and much, much more….
It’s the sort of place where people can get together, and be less lonely.
So we are here, and we’re inviting local people, organisations and community groups to be part of a new social movement through Bramley’s Community Centre; solving problems together, and making the future brighter for all ages. With the help of volunteers, and with the energy of the local community and organisations across the city, we believe this space can contribute to a better quality of local life, offering services and activities that people want, and need.
We’re starting this journey by opening the doors to everyone on Sat 24 March 11-4pm. But in the meantime, we hope organisations and residents will get in touch, bring creative and ambitious activities and services here that everyone can benefit from, hold courses to help people manage health, money, wellbeing, skills and to FEEL GOOD. Get involved on facebook or twitter @BramleyCCentre, or drop in to see us on Waterloo Lane, LS13 2JB anytime.
BEA also manages Older Wiser Local Seniors (OWLS) , which supports older people in Burley, Hyde Park, Little Woodhouse, Headingley and parts of Kirkstall, while our social enterprise wing, UpBEAt, runs Bramley Community Shop to support the community with affordable clothes, electrical items and household items.
We would love to hear from anyone interested in being a BEA volunteer. We are particularly looking for drivers, bus buddies and befrienders at the moment, but please get in touch whatever you’re interested in doing. We take volunteers of all ages, from 18+, including many BEA members. Volunteering is another great way of meeting people and keeping active, while making an important contribution to your community. BEA volunteer Kath’s response on being asked what she gets from volunteering is typical of what so many feel: “The satisfaction of knowing I’ve done something useful, as well as meeting new people and making new friends.”
Bramley Elderly Action
Bramley Community Centre, Waterloo Lane,
Bramley, Leeds LS13 2JB