Jessica’s Story

Jessica, 67, is a regular attendee of St John’s activities in The Bubble and has been living at St John’s City Centre site since December 2018. The Bubble is the name of St John’s central Bath venue, hosting a variety of activities for the over 55s, aimed at promoting positive ageing, improving wellbeing and reducing isolation.

Jessica started coming to the activities “to learn a new skill, to meet my neighbours, make friends, and to enhance my life”, and goes to many of the activities on offer:

“I attend two yoga sessions, one on Monday and another on Wednesday, an art class on Tuesday morning followed by a cooking group in the afternoon. On Thursdays I go to another art class and depending on how I’m feeling, Tai Chi in the afternoon. I also do a stitch class on Friday afternoon, so I have something going on every day. I enjoy going to the classes and learning a new skill as it takes my mind off of the aches and pains.”

Jessica, pictured here at the Thursday Art Class, which takes place very week in The Bubble led by tutor, Pete Savin.

Before coming to St John’s, Jessica had worked as a chemist However, pursuing her career left little space for the arts. Now, years after attaining an O-Level in Art, she has reconnected with her old passion.

“Attending the activities has given me new interests and enhanced skills that I had. When you are working all of your adult life, you forget the skills you used to have. It has been a good opportunity to re-engage with my old hobbies because, years later, I still enjoy them. I enjoy my classes and I go each day and make the absolute most of it. I am also quite competitive and want to improve and get better than I was when I started, which gives me something to pursue.”

To anyone still unconvinced about joining a new activity, Jessica says:

“Do it! It’s been such a positive experience for me. The tutors are nice, and they all inspire everyone to make their best work whilst gently improving their skills. The yoga is sometimes difficult but it’s there for my own benefit. The stitch classes all produce lovely work. And I have also made lots of friends from the group.”

“I get on with all the tutors really well. All of them are really gifted and, working in this environment, they have to be empathetic and encouraging and have patience for everyone they teach. Everything they do, they do well. Especially Sarah [Prentice, Get Creative tutor], she will walk around the group and see where people need help and then support them without them knowing they’ve been assisted.”

As well as increased social interaction and improvement of skills, Jessica’s health and physical abilities have greatly benefitted from the classes she attends.

“Before I started the exercise classes I had an arthritic flare-up and, as a result, I could hardly walk and was mostly in a wheelchair. Since joining the exercise classes I have progressed so much that I can now walk unaided. I have made real progress and although I’m still in pain at times, I’m more mobile [than before] and keep going out and making the effort.”

In addition to the activities found in the What’s On Guide, St John’s also offers a varied programme of resident-only activities, which include breakfasts, themed dinners and fun events, which Jessica says gives her even more to do.

“I attend every resident activity (as long as I remember to put it in my diary!). The evenings are good for social gatherings and you can touch base with other residents – a good social get-together with good food and good company!”

While residents are encouraged to live independently, sometimes people need a little extra help.  This is where St John’s Independent Living Assistants step in.

“The ILAs come to my flat daily to help me, and I have conversations with them at every opportunity. The ILAs also take me shopping and I really love that aspect. At the activities I interact with staff and get on with them all.”

St John’s What’s On Guides are distributed six-monthly to doctor’s surgeries, pharmacies, local charities and individuals throughout Bath & North East Somerset.

If you would like to find out more about St John’s Foundation or any of our activities, email community.outreach@stjohnsbath.org.uk or phone 01225 486400.