Southgate charity offers ‘entertainment and laughter’ for homebound locals

Southgate Homebound Association volunteer Astor Sonnen on why the charity plays an essential role in the community

Southgate Homebound members enjoy a spot of afternoon tea
Southgate Homebound members enjoy a spot of afternoon tea

I’ve been a volunteer at Southgate Homebound Association for 16 years. A charity founded over 65 years ago, we meet regularly at Walker Hall, offering friendship to local residents in Southgate and Enfield who have difficulty getting out on their own due to physical problems or loneliness caused by isolation, bereavement or depression.

It is a totally inclusive club, free to all members, and made possible by donations and kindness. One Friday evening a month our small team of volunteers transport, serve refreshments and enjoy chatting to more than 20 members, ranging in age from 60 to 100 years!

Entertainment is imaginative and interesting – different each club night – and includes joyful choirs and talented cruise ship entertainers; musical groups, from pianists to ukulele players and guitarists to bellringers; slide shows, interesting talks and games; and always with plenty of time for refreshments and chat!

We also have an annual summer party, outing and Christmas dinner, so volunteering definitely provides some variety.

During my time at the organisation many things have changed. Volunteers have come and gone and, sadly, so have members, but what has always remained is the care and dedication to ensuring that members feel part of this friendly group.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when our in-person meetings were halted, we continued with our monthly newsletters, but also became a phone-based charity. Volunteers were allocated different members to ensure they were receiving regular check-ins from a familiar voice during what was a difficult time for everyone.

Thankfully, our in-person club nights are now back in full swing, and our membership numbers are increasing due to word-of-mouth recommendations. However, such is our popularity that we’ve started to reach our limits, with volunteers who can drive and transport members being a particular challenge.

Drivers are integral to our club nights, transporting members from their homes and then back. One member, Peter Stevenson, said: “The Southgate Homebound Association is a wonderful monthly get together with entertainment and laughter which helps me in too many ways to mention. The volunteer drivers are such an essential part of the evening that without them I would not be able to attend.”

For anyone who attends our nights, the enjoyment our members experience is clear – it’s one of the reasons I’ve volunteered for so long – so it’s a shame that we can’t currently support more people.

Ian Woodall, our chairman, adds: “If we could just attract a few more drivers, we would be able to increase our membership even further. For a couple of hours a month, it is such a worthwhile thing to do. It is an absolute delight to see our members forging friendships and having fun.”

I am proud to volunteer at Southgate Homebound, it’s truly rewarding. If you can donate time one Friday evening a month or every now and again, or you or someone you know would like to find out more about joining as a member, please get in touch. With a new influx of volunteers, I hope you’ll be reading a follow-up article in another 65 years!

For more information and to enquire about volunteering with Southgate Homebound, get in touch with Ian Woodall:
07505 120 516
Email [email protected]

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