Knitting, armchair yoga, a film club, Welsh and Spanish lessons and a delicious daily lunch are just some of the activities drawing the crowds at a Taff Ely centre.
Visitors to Cafe 50 in Pontyclun, which is open to everyone in Cwm Taf over the age of 50, are assured of a lively welcome and plenty to do, with the organisation thriving five years on from its launch. The building, in Heol yr Orsaf, was taken over from the local authority by Pontyclun Community Council in 2014, with clubs and groups making use of the space all day long, from Monday to Friday.
The weekly schedule starts on a Monday morning with the Welcome Friends activities group and continues throughout the week, with curling, quizzes, social afternoons, a choir, felt crafting and the Yarnmongers knitting group just some of the sessions on offer. The University of the Third Age (U3A) also holds language lessons, a drawing club and crossword groups at the cafe, while a two-course lunch costing just £4.50 is served by chef Susan Ellis, from midday, five days a week. In addition, a monthly film club recently got underway and proved a success, with another film to be shown on April 18.
Welcome officer Tara Davies said: “There is so much going on here, with many people coming every day. About 50% of the centre users are from Pontyclun, with the rest from the wider Talbot Green and Llanharan area and some even coming from the other side of Pontypridd.
“We’re forming partnerships with local businesses who want to support us and would love even more people to know that we’re here and what we do. We especially want to connect with men over 50, who can be isolated, and we’re hoping to partner with the Pipeworks micro-pub to hold some events there.”
Cafe 50 is completely self-funded, with running costs coming from successful grant applications. Cafe 50 has also benefited from funding from the Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster, with projects such as walking rugby and football starting earlier this year.
Long-standing Yarnmongers member Sheila Harris, who comes with friends Rosanne Bond and Linda Smith, said: “We knit ‘twiddle muffs’ for the Welsh Ambulance Service, which are like the children’s trauma teddies but for older patients who find going in the ambulance stressful. We also make knee blankets, beanie hats, fingerless gloves and other things. We’re a productive group – it’s a like a little factory here!”
Linda, who moved to the area from the Rhymney Valley three years ago, said: “I started going to groups to make friends and that’s exactly what I’ve done here. It’s a lovely group, very friendly and people are very generous. I love to knit but you don’t always know what to make for people, as they have everything, so this gives me something to knit. Last year, we decorated a tree in Llantrisant church’s tree festival. It was the first time the decorations had been knitted!”
Avis Lewis, 89, of Brynsadler, comes to the lunch club nearly every day. “I like the food, as they do things like curry and lasagne and the other day we had a brunch,” she said. “But more than anything, it’s about the company. We sit in a little group and we’re always laughing.”
Jean Williams, 88, of Pontyclun, said: “Everyone knows everyone. If someone’s missing, we’ll phone and find out how they are. It’s brilliant here and Tara is amazing. Not a day goes by without something going on. Soon we’re taking part in a curling competition in Hawthorn and we also do armchair yoga and want to try the film afternoon.”