BBC homes in on retirement park waging war on isolation

Reporter Alex Rhodes (left) and park director Tracey Coulson (far right) with residents Penny and Rosemary

ONE OF BRITAIN’S friendliest retirement parks, The Elms in Torksey, became the star of a four-hour broadcast recently on BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

The station’s popular morning show pitched up on the park in October to discover how its residents were being good neighbours to each other during the Covid crisis.

The theme of the show that day was “Pledge to Talk”, and its host Sean Dunderdale focussed on the importance to mental health of keeping in regular touch with others.

Throughout the programme, listeners heard from BBC reporter Alex Rhodes as he took his roaming mike around The Elms to interview some of the occupants of its 340 homes.

Alex said he was keen to find out how the community was coping during a time when, for some people, the pandemic was causing loneliness and isolation.

The BBC radio crew rolled up at dawn and broadcast throughout the show

There was, he reported, no evidence of such problems at The Elm where residents, all aged 50-plus, went out of their way to look out for each other.

Alex also talked about the spirit of neighbourliness at the park with Tracey Coulson, a member of the Kinch family which has owned The Elms for over 35 years.

Tracey said that the friendly atmosphere was helped by the fact that residents were all within a similar age group, and found plenty in common with each other.

She agreed that some people were initially shy when they first moved to The Elms, but soon felt drawn in to the many activities and social events which regularly take place.

However, Tracey added, personal privacy was always respected, and there was never any question of anyone feeling obliged to be more social than they wished.

Reporter Alex said that because of the size of the park, it was inevitable that some residents had not yet met each other – and so, live on air, he decided to conduct an experiment

He talked separately to Penny and Rosemary who had not bumped into each other before, and then brought the couple together for their first ever meeting.

In hardly any time they had found plenty to chat about – and it demonstrated, said Alex, that simply engaging can be a quick and easy way out of feeling isolated.

“We were delighted to welcome the BBC to the park, and I know that many of our residents are keen listeners to Radio Lincolnshire,” said Tracey Coulson.

“The show succeeded very well in getting across the friendly spirit which we enjoy here at The Elms, and of course gave us even more to talk about!”

There is more information about The Elms on its website at www.elmsretirementpark.co.uk

The Elms has extensive landscaped grounds around which residents can stroll and meet socially

 

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