Thursday, May 6, 2021
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Backyard bingo brings community together in Bramley

THE impact of coronavirus on our way of life has been a real challenge for many of us, writes Jo Fiddes.

Bramley Elderly Action’s view is that when the worst of this crisis is over we should not return to business as usual, but instead we should build upon the community spirit which has been evident across West Leeds over the past few months.

HOUSE! A lucky winner at Backyard bingo. Photo: BEA

With this in mind, they have recently launched “Backyard Bingo”, a project aimed at strengthening the local connections many of us have built up since lockdown began.

My neighbours and I took the plunge and had our first game. It was a bit of a wet and windy day, but we were undeterred. Bramley Elderly Action provided all the equipment along with instructions on running a Covid safe bingo game.

All very clear and comprehensive – nothing too difficult – you just had to be prepared to give it a go! We set up our outdoor bingo hall on the back street – socially distanced chairs, everyone using their own pens and bingo books (provided!)….then it was eyes down!

For our inaugural game we managed to twist the arm of Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves to be our bingo caller, and her experience in the House of Commons ensured she kept participants in check and remained completely un-phased by the good natured banter.

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves taking part in backyard bingo.

Wearing gloves and a bingo caller visor, and using a megaphone, she led us through an enjoyable half hour, and declared it the most fun she’d had for a while.

Novelty prizes (home-made jam and packets of pasta) brought out our competitive spirit and gave us something to play for.

Mostly though, we laughed and giggled and declared Backyard Bingo a big hit! Why wouldn’t you want to have a bit of banter with your neighbours playing bingo in the wind and drizzle, the excitement building as you feel you might win a packet of spaghetti!

Fran Graham of Bramley Elderly Action & OWLS (Older Wiser Local Seniors) said:

“The community spirit we’ve seen during this pandemic has been terrific, but it would be easy to slip back into our usual routines again while many people are still struggling and feeling lonely.

“Imagine if we carried that community spirit on, got to know our neighbours better, and made our areas as friendly as possible? Hosting Backyard Bingo in your area is a great way to bring some much-needed fun to our neighbourhoods this summer.“

If you’d like to host outdoor socially-distanced Backyard Bingo in Bramley, Swinnow and parts of Stanningley call BEA 0113 236 1644 or e-mail info@bramleyea.org.uk / or in Kirkstall, Burley, Headingley, Hyde Park, Little Woodhouse call OWLS 0113 369 7077 / e-mail infoowls@gmail.com. Staff will provide you with everything you need.

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