Burcu is in her fifties and a resident of the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. She came across Circle, Participle’s membership organisation for over 50s, when it launched in her neighbourhood and used it to inject a bit of life into her routine by meeting new people and trying new things.
I joined Circle when I turned 50 and decided to give up smoking. I live on my own, don’t see my family much, and I wanted to find new ways to keep busy. Circle was a local social gathering right on my doorstep. I live close to one of the regular meet-up spots so it was very convenient. I decided to attend a few events. It seemed easy going and you were never obligated to attend. It was just a nice way of signposting to people who are lonely.
We’re creating community, which is not so common in big cities any more.
I’m one of the younger members, but I liked that there were older people there. It was great to tap into that wisdom. Most of the members are quite wise, well-seasoned people. They have lots of interesting stories. Our conversations are incredibly therapeutic. We discuss everything from travel, life, and grief to what made the best window cleaner. It’s refreshing!
I started volunteering to host events and helped out at the theatre, concerts, outings and the wine and cheese evening. Now I know far more local people that live in the area than I would have met before.
Circle gives you a structure for social interaction and connectivity… I don’t see it as volunteering any more. I see it as getting together with members of my community, as an active neighbour and a friend. We’re creating community, which is not so common in big cities any more. I have something to give to my local community, and
Circle has helped me find a way to channel that energy as well as giving me a great network of people who will be there for me as I get older. I’m doing it for myself and for everyone else who lives here.
While there isn’t a formal Circle being run in Kensington and Chelsea any more, Burcu is one of several members who is still keeping things going in the area, organising wine and cheese tastings and games nights. We’re very happy she is continuing to give her time to organising this network of friends, but on the other hand, it’s not about us.
What Burcu and her neighbours are doing is something that’s owned completely by them and built on their own relationships with each other. Yet, as they’re able to support one another through good times and bad, the members will likely see increased mental and physical wellbeing, which benefits them, their neighbourhood, and society as a whole. Keep up the good work, guys.