Suffolk leisure company extends free online programme to support social isolation

Abbeycroft Leisure, Suffolk’s largest independent leisure provider, has extended a programme of free online sessions designed to support loneliness, isolation and dementia awareness.

Their ‘Together During Lockdown’ programme includes a mix of gentle, physical activity sessions such as chair based exercise and strength and balance,  as well as virtual friendship groups aimed at those living with dementia, their friends, families and carers. These friendship group sessions start with a chat and a cup of tea, maybe a quiz and for those who want to try it, they can remain to do the gentle physical activity as well.

The extended programme, funded by Hadleigh Dementia Action Alliance and Active Suffolk, has evolved from their original ‘Together Tuesday’ sessions, which were based at Hadleigh Pool and Leisure Centre, and awarded the prestigious ‘Healthy Communities Award’ at the 2019 UK Active Sports Awards.

Warren Smyth, chief executive at Abbeycroft Leisure said:

As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we’re extremely proud to be offering these sessions whilst our centres remain closed due to lockdown restrictions.”

“Movement and exercise will continue to be key in the nation’s recovery from this pandemic, however, we should never underestimate the social benefits that it so often brings to people’s lives.”

“These sessions create much needed connection, conversation and belonging to many people living alone or isolated for whatever reason, and it’s those conversations which are so vitally important.”

Jill Mason, Together During Lockdown coordinator said:

“The sessions were always so popular in Hadleigh, so it made perfect sense to continue with an online programme, which has already been well received by customers old and new. The sessions are very easy to access and completely free of charge, so we hope more people will benefit from them.”

“As soon as it’s safe to do so, we’ll be reintroducing the sessions in Hadleigh and starting in Haverhill and we’ll also keep some sessions virtual, for those people who would rather stay at home.”

Mary Mugford from Sudbury has been attending the online sessions and said:

“These sessions have been a life saver.   They not only give my rusty joints an oiling but also make me feel part of a group. Seeing other people online is quite something when isolated at home.  I live with my husband who has vascular dementia and the friendship group which Jill also runs keeps me in touch with others.

To find out more about the free sessions and how to access them – visit