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"The way you allay fears is being sensible," Andy's journey out of lockdown.

Published on 23 August 2021 04:23 PM

“The way you allay fears is being sensible and putting in safety measures and that gives people the confidence to come back. I wanted to open up the shed again, then it's people’s choice whether they come or not if you don’t reopen there’s no choice.”

Andy is a retired firefighter who lives in Somerset where he keeps himself busy running a Men’s Shed near Cheddar.

Andy’s wife works as a social prescriber in Bristol and told him about Age UK Bristol’s Tai-Chi instructor training for the community. Andy already has an interest in reiki, and once he did some research on Tai-Chi he decided it would be a good thing to offer at the Men’s Shed as a way of encouraging some of the older members to maintain their fitness.

He completed the training in summer 2021 and has since been leading sessions every Wednesday. “They’ve been well received so far,” says Andy. “Everyone has enjoyed them, everyone has come back and that’s an endorphin in itself for me. It can potentially be life changing for some of the older chaps, even if it’s just about getting their arms above their shoulders, if they haven’t done that for ten years then that now means they can get tea out of the cupboard again.”

Andy has been careful to ensure the Men’s Shed is a safe and welcoming space for members, this has meant ensuring he has all the right cleaning gear and is following national covid guidance. Some of the members haven’t yet come back but Andy thinks they will in time. “The way you allay fears is being sensible and putting in safety measures and that gives people the confidence to come back. I wanted to open up the shed again, then it's people’s choice whether they come or not if you don’t reopen there’s no choice.”

Andy’s story is a part of Age UK Bristol and the Support Hub’s ‘One Small Step to Reconnect’ campaign, supporting and empowering people over 50 to reconnect with their community and rebuild their confidence in going out again post-lockdown. Although Andy isn’t able to run a session, many from his cohort of instructors have signed up to be a part of Age UK Bristol’s Tai Chi in the Park event on Friday 27th August, find out more here.