BY EMMA PENGELLY
Charlton Athletic legend Keith Peacock has launched a national programme which gets members playing bowls to bingo to tackle loneliness in over 55s.
Charlton Athletic and Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s (CACT) Extra Time Hub launched on Wednesday, June 19 at The Valley stadium’s Millennium Suite.
Keith, Charlton Athletic and CACT ambassador, a former member of Alan Curbishley’s coaching staff and famously the first ever substitute in a Football League game, was at the launch with many pensioners who have helped set up the scheme.
He said: “It’s so beneficial for a great number of people in the community to be able to have a purpose to their day or week through this type of get together.
“You can join in everything or become a watcher of what’s going on – there’s no pressure. I can’t speak highly enough of Extra Time Hub.”
The club has helped retired care worker Pauline Rybacki, 68, regain the social life work brought her.
Pauline, from Charlton, said: “After a while you suddenly realise how lonely you become. At work you can have a chat and you have a connected social life. “All that stops when you retire. It’s a life-changing experience.”
In her working life Pauline’s roles involved talking to and serving the public, so CACT’s socialising programme is invaluable to her. She retired six years ago from work as a carer and has held customer-facing roles at Greenwich council, the National Maritime Museum and at the Millennium Dome.
Pauline added: “I was a child who grew up without a lot of confidence, but having jobs over the years working with the public improves your confidence. I can talk to anybody now.” Despite being married with two children, two grandchildren and another four great-grandchildren, for Pauline socialising out of the home is just as important for over 55s’ mental wellbeing.
She said: “You don’t talk to your husband in the same way as a group of women. It’s different. “When you’re doing the exercises you get things wrong and have a laugh. Laughing for me is the best cure for anything. It’s a mood-changer and I come home bright and breezy.”
CACT’s Extra Time programme offers members quizzes, singing, table tennis, bowls, new age kurling, bingo and physical exercises to get people socialising.
CACT joined 11 other English Football League clubs across the country to launch the national Extra Time programme funded by Sport England’s Active Aging Fund from the National Lottery.
The programme aims to use football clubs to bring together the retired and semi-retired to boost physical and mental health. Extra Time Hub will take place weekly every Wednesday from 10am until noon at The Valley.