Leeds men are sticking it to loneliness

Community connectors  Robin Sherwood, left and Eric Dalton with their walking sticks
Community connectors Robin Sherwood, left and Eric Dalton with their walking sticks
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A group of pensioners in Leeds are whittling away loneliness by carving out a new niche.

Robin Silverwood first crafted walking sticks nearly 30 years ago from wood he found while working in Middleton Park.

And now he is encouraging pensioners in his community to stick with some new exciting hobbies.

Robin is teaching members of Middleton Elderly Aid, along with other people from the area, how to carve their own walking sticks from pieces of wood found in their local park.

And he has taught them how to fashion pieces of antler, shed by deer in Scotland, into the handles.

His classes are part of the community connectors pilot which is being delivered by three of the city’s Neighbourhood Networks to help beat social isolation.

Robin said: “I used to find all these bits of wood in the park and I started carving them just as a hobby.

“I was asked if I’d come along and show other people how to do it and now there’s quite a few of us who work on walking sticks every week.

“Sometimes people come in and want to buy one too, which helps us to get more materials to keep the project going.

“People have been carving their own walking sticks for hundreds of years but a lot of people living in a city would never get the chance to do something rural like this.

“It’s great that older people are coming along and learning something new and we have the time of our lives here.”

The initiative is part of Leeds City Council’s Seniors Network Support (SeNS) project.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, executive member for adult social care, said: “The community connectors project is an amazing chance for us find local people, passionate about their area and give them the chance to pass on their years of knowledge and experience to others.”

Leeds Lives Not Knives message taken into community