Regular board game nights come to shopping centre to tackle loneliness
- Credit: Dicing With Life / The Mercury Shopping Centre
A social inclusion initiative is teaming up with a Romford shopping centre to run regular board gaming sessions.
Dicing With Life will take over the ground floor of The Mercury shopping centre for "socially distanced fun and games".
The free board game and tabletop gaming club, based in Romford, lost its regular venue due to the pandemic.
Founder Lauren Gee explained the initiative, which has 1,500 members, was no longer able to use the Hope Café in Romford Market and needed a new venue.
She told this paper: “I cannot tell you how supportive our community is.
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“The connections it makes by bringing people together is amazing.”
Lauren, who has multiple complex disabilities, explained she moved to Havering six years ago for work.
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Feeling isolated and alone, Lauren launched Dicing With Life to meet new people and bring them together.
She said: “There was a need locally for Havering people who were feeling like me, especially disabled people or those with anxiety.”
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), levels of loneliness in the UK increased during the pandemic; between April 3 and May 3 last year, five per cent of people said they felt lonely often or always.
By February this year, this had increased to 7.2 pc of the population.
Many of the volunteers originally joined the group as socially isolated people, and now want to give back to the initiative.
During lockdown, the group held virtual events for members, and Lauren said volunteers from the gaming community in America, Australia and Europe stepped up to help meet demand.
Dicing With Life offer one to one support for people who might feel nervous about joining a large group, and ease them into bigger meet-ups slowly.
It also runs workshops and events around the borough.
The group meets every Tuesday and Saturday evening at Della Continental on level two of The Mercury at around 6.30pm, to head down for games at 7pm.