Exotic beasts brought smiles to the faces of service users involved in a scheme set up to tackle loneliness in south Leeds.
The South Leeds Live at Home Scheme members welcomed a visit from unusual animals from the Morley Exotic Animal Rescue on Thursday at St Andrew’s Community Centre.
Manager at South Leeds Live at Home Scheme Jayne Holland, 45, of Beeston, said: "It was really nice seeing people enjoying themselves because a lot of the people do not have any family.
“The group is here to stop social isolation and it is here to give the members somewhere to go during the week.”
At Thursday's event, the Morley Exotic Rescue Centre brought along a snake, a scorpion, a tarantula, a skunk, a lizard and three meerkats to meet the nervous and excited group.
As the snake was removed from the box, an elderly lady was seen moving her chair to the back of the room to get as far away as possible from it.
Alan Hewitt, Morley Exotic Rescue Centre worker, 47, of Morley, said: "It is always terrific fun going out in to the community.
“It is the nice side of the job.
“We have rescued over 200 animals in a year, mostly from negligence and cruelty.
“People think that it is quite fashionable to have an exotic pet but they don't realise how hard it can be to look after them.”
Member Nancy Staton, 89, of Beeston, said: "The group means everything to me. The people are so kind when you get lonely and need people.
“I would never get anywhere if it wasn't for them. It is wonderful."
Account manager at South Leeds Live at Home Scheme Susan Brown, 45, of Beeston, said: “It is good to get people together and stop them being so isolated at home.
“We send these people home with a big smile of their face which is fantastic.”
Committee volunteer Jean Green, 72, of Beeston, added: “It is a way of sharing things like this that you would normally not see and meeting new friends.”
The Live at Home Scheme is run at St Andrew’s Community Centre by 56 volunteers and has 600 members.
It was set up to provide support for elderly people over the age of 55 to tackle loneliness in Beeston, Cottingley and Hunslet.
The scheme holds regular events and lunches for the members, as well as befriending people and offering a telephone care line.
The event on Thursday was held alongside a giveaway day where members were given free goody bags.
To find out more information about South Leeds Live at Home, you can call 0113 2716201.