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Stafford and Rural Homes | Can’t get to the Panto? Oh yes you can!
Taking to the stage with Claire Duffell and Lizzie Burder from the Northeast Producers are SARH BeConnected customers Dorothy Gibbons and Judy Stubbs (right).

Can’t get to the Panto? Oh yes you can!

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a good panto, and older members of the community recently enjoyed the chance to sing along with Alice, the Mad Hatter and other Wonderland characters at an event organised by Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH), one of the largest providers of affordable homes for older people in Stafford.

The event at Marston Court, an Independent Living Scheme managed by SARH, was organised as part of the pioneering SARH BeConnected project that aims to tackle loneliness and isolation.

More than 40 people, including many SARH customers, sang along during the pantomime performance staged by the Northeast Producers. The travelling theatre company specialises in creating affordable productions that can be brought to any space – and they certainly proved a hit on their visit to Marston Court.

SARH BeConnected Project Worker, Susan Cooke, explained: “This is the first time we’ve booked a professional production and it makes perfect sense both from a cost and logistics point of view.

“Many people who come to SARH BeConnected events and our older customers have not been to the theatre for a long time. By bringing the show to them we were able to overcome many of the difficulties they have in getting out to a traditional show.”

The performance certainly lifted the spirits of those who came along, with members of the audience describing it as ‘wonderful’ and ‘great fun with lovely songs’.

Susan said: “By doing it this way, more people were able to benefit from the show than if SARH had organised a coach to take them to a theatre.

“Events such as this also help to bring people together and make new friends. Everyone really enjoyed the show and it was great for customers to get involved and meet the cast.”

Karen Armitage, SARH Chief Executive, added: “BeConnected has proved a huge success, so far bringing together more than 160 local people who would otherwise be at home alone.

“The project is as popular as SARH Independent Living Schemes, where many BeConnected events are held. Designed to meet the needs of people aged over 55 that want to maintain their independence, the Schemes also host many events and activities which, alongside the BeConnected programme, help to build thriving communities.”

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