“Women are generally better at developing social networks than men. Older men who’ve retired and perhaps lost touch with former work colleagues can often feel socially isolated, particularly if they’ve lost their life partner. Of course, anyone of any age can feel lonely and find it hard to make new connections.

Westbank Community Health and Care aims to combat loneliness and create a sense of community for people of all ages and gender across Devon. One of the ways we do this is through our weekly Men’s Brunch Club, which we started about five years ago to provide a relaxed and easygoing environment for men to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. 

The club evolved out of a Hobbies group which both men and women could attend. But, as it turned out, the men socialised amongst themselves, and so did the women! We decided it would be better to have a separate group for gentlemen to come along to and came up with Men’s Brunch Club, which has proved successful. 

Held every Tuesday from 10.30 am at Westbank in Exminster, the Club brings together a group of men from different backgrounds for company and conversation over brunch. Most of them are retired, but there’s no age limit, and we recently had a younger man join us who was lonely post-Covid. Others are referred to us by their GP. After being welcomed with a hot or cold drink by me or one of our volunteers, they all tuck into a full English breakfast for just £7!

Enjoying a meal together is just the starting point for a sociable morning during which the conversation can, and often does, go in any direction! We chat about everyday life or troubleshoot if they have a particular problem. After brunch, one of our lovely volunteers usually organises a quiz, which everyone seems to enjoy. 

That one morning of social interaction makes a huge difference to some of our regular attendees. People who may seem shy at first really come ‘out of their shell’ when they feel relaxed among friends. We have some real characters. 

Generally speaking, men are less likely to engage in organised social activities than women for various reasons - perhaps pride, shyness, or just not wanting to be a bother to anyone. Friendships have been formed outside of the group, though, and one of our volunteers consequently started a befriending service. 

If you would like to give our Brunch Club a go, do get in touch. And if it’s difficult for you to get to Westbank for this or one of our other activities, let us know because we may be able to help with transport, depending on where you live. We have a fantastic team of volunteer drivers, who help us connect people to combat loneliness and isolation whenever we can.”

 If you would like further information about activities at Westbank click here, or to support or donate to any of the services we provide, go to our home page www.westbank.org.uk

Article originally written and published in The Moorlander newspaper