Grandmother says friendship group helped her to settle in Southport

Grandmother says friendship group helped her to settle in Southport

by Danielle Thompson (June 2021)

A GRANDMOTHER who swapped her city life for the Southport coast says she wouldn’t have stayed if it wasn’t for the friendly people.

Julie Rudge, 69, moved from Birmingham to Southport after falling in love with the seaside town during her visits to her daughter Rachel. Despite her daughter moving away just 18 months later, Julie says that the wonderful friends she has made means she is here to stay.

She said: “In Birmingham, the only group I was a part of was the quiz team at my local pub. When I moved to Southport, I wanted to make sure I had a good mix of friends in different places, so my daughter wouldn’t be the only member of my support group. She’s got her own friends and family, plus I wanted to make the most of my retirement and find interesting people my own age.”

Julie joined a range of groups in the town, including the  local Oddfellows friendship group, Kings Garden Volunteers Group and U3A, which she says has helped her to feel like she belongs in her new community.

She said: “Through the Oddfellows I’ve made a wonderful group of friends. We do so many things together. It’s a bit like the pub, you meet interesting characters and friendly faces, but there are a few more “regulars” and it tends to be coffee morning, lunches and coach trips rather than a drink at the bar.”

“I’ve joined a lot of groups here in Southport and I’ve made wonderful friends in all of them. The Oddfellows is the one which actively encourages you to make friends. I have also volunteered to help look after the local public gardens, but you’re not going to make loads of friends doing it as it’s pretty solitary most of the time,” she added.

Julie is sharing her story to help others who have relocated to get to know more people in their neighbourhood, something which has been difficult to do throughout the pandemic.

She added: “The Oddfellows is about spending time with other people – formal and casual meet ups, quiz nights, dances, dinners, learning sessions, or going for days out as a group rather than focusing on having one thing in common. There’s lots of choice, so you can always find something you’re into and someone who’s into it too.”

The grandmother of seven, added: “My daughter moved back to Birmingham 18 months after I moved here but I’m too happy and have so much to do here –  I’m not going back!”

A retired special needs teacher, she is is now a Branch Welfare Visitor at the Oddfellows, which means she helps out some of the other members by offering advice and support.

She added: “I do believe there’s a group out there for everyone, you just have to give a go – and the Oddfellows is a great place to start!”

Bonita Hesketh, Branch Secretary for the Ormskirk and Southport Branch of the Oddfellows, added: “Settling into a new home or community takes time. The pandemic and social distancing restrictions have really set people back from getting to know other people, discovering their local area and feeling more settled. 

“We’re now restarting some of our usual social events and we’re always ready to welcome new members. Just get in touch.”

The Ormskirk and Southport Oddfellows gets together regularly to enjoy events such as quiz nights, organised walks and meals together.

The next event is a coffee afternoon on Thursday, July 1, at The Central Club (The Old Conservative Club), 20 Bath Street. Among other events is a trip to Bury Market on Friday, July 16. Due to COVID-19 Guidelines for events, booking is required, so anyone interested in joining in should contact Judith.Catton@oddfellows.co.uk.

The Oddfellows has also shared its advice on how to settle into a new area on its website at oddfellows.co.uk/newstart. The guide includes the following top tips:

Join a club – finding a club or organisation that interests you is a great way of meeting people with similar interests. Start with searching for ‘clubs or associations near me’ in a search engine, or check out your local community centre or library notice board.Meet your neighbours – your street, local park or village is your closest and most convenient community, so don’t be shy when it comes to introducing yourself. Be confident and chat to your neighbours. Just start with a hello, a smile or a wave.Volunteer – volunteering some of your free time to a local cause will open a door to meeting other people who care about the same things as you do. You’ll also be able to tap into lots of local knowledge and networks.

For more information about your local Oddfellows, or to find out about events near you, go to www.oddfellows.co.uk/newstart, or contact Bonita.Hesketh@oddfellows.co.uk.

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