03:00PM, Wednesday 16 September 2020
Members of a community group are disappointed after their scheduled meetings have been cancelled after just two gatherings since lockdown.
Men’s Matters, a group that supports older men to ‘live longer and live better’, traditionally meets every Wednesday at Maidenhead Community Centre in York Road.
Since COVID-19, members have kept in touch via weekly Zoom meetings – though Men’s Matters could only reach about half its members this way.
Out of the 30 members of Men’s Matters, about 17 attended its second meeting back, on Wednesday, September 9.
“The guys loved it,” said Paul. “Some have hardly gone out for six months. Being able to meet with friends has really lifted their spirits.”
As its members are quite vulnerable, the community group instigated careful safety measures. Attendees had to wear face masks and had temperatures recorded with a ‘no contact’ thermometer.
However, after just two meetings, Men’s Matters has had to cancel the rest, following new Government guidance.
The Government’s ‘rule of six’ for gatherings came into effect on Monday, making it against the law for people to gather in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors.
Originally, community groups were exempt from this.
However the Government changed its guidelines for gatherings for social clubs.
The restrictions now include informal or formal adult social groups, clubs and activities, but excludes support groups, which can gather in ‘any number’.
“Although we are providing support, we count as more of a social group than a support group,” said Paul.
“It’s very disappointing – the thing that really sustains people’s lives is a sense of community.”
Men’s Maters will continue its Zoom meetings for the time being until guidance changes.
“When we start up again, I expect everyone will come back. [Our members] are very enthusiastic about the meetings,” said Paul.
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