Group seeks all sorts to build a community

Jennifer Burns The more the merrier: Reverend Jennifer Burns hopes to encourage adults of all abilities and disabilities to join the Merewether Allsorts group for fun and friendship.

THERE is a sign in the Merewether Uniting Church hall that says: “We are all people, we are all equal.”

“All of the activities that happen in this hall live up to that,” Reverend Jennifer Burns said.

“And that’s what we’re trying to do with the weekly Merewether Allsorts group.”

Each Tuesday between 10am and 2pm, a group of people of all abilities and disabilities come together to talk, to mingle, to learn and to have fun.

“Previously in this time slot on a Tuesday we had the New Ways Stroke Group here,” Rev. Burns said.

“And initially we just had the people who attended that group coming along, but now they are quite excited about welcoming people with other disabilities and abilities to come and join us.

“It’s called ‘allsorts’ because we want people of all abilities, people who might have lost some abilities, and lost different abilities, to come to this group and spend some time together.

“That would make it a true reflection of community, if everyone was involved.”

There is a program of activities that varies over the course of a month.

A fourth year occupational therapy student attends to run exercises and games for group members.

A physiotherapist, a Tai Chi instructor, and an artist host different sessions, and there is an ongoing – and rather competitive – game of bocce that continues throughout the year.

“There is always something different,” Rev. Burns said. “And then once a month we also have some entertainment as well.”

While the group is aimed at creating a community for people with disabilities, it is also about giving their carers some time out.

“It’s important for the carers to get a break,” Rev. Burns said.

“People love coming to the group, and the carers need to have the opportunity to get to their own appointments and do the things they need to do as well.”

Carol Hill, of Cooks Hill, has been a familiar face at the church hall for more than 12 years.

She began attending the New Ways group after having a stroke about 13 years ago.

Warm welcome: Carol Hill, of Cooks Hill, with Merewether Uniting Church minister Jennifer Burns at the Allsorts group session on Tuesday.

Mrs Hill was pleased the group had expanded to include people of all abilities and disabilities.

“It’s nice to go somewhere where you can talk to people,” Mrs Hill said.

“You can go to the shops, and go and have a coffee, but it can be lonely, if you let it. The idea is to keep your brain active, and to be able to converse. It’s something I look forward to every week. All people are valued and loved.”

Rev. Burns hoped more people would come along to join the Merewether Allsorts each Tuesday. To find out more, call49614525.