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Region 1 - Three Days of Service by Brixton Sai Centre

The month of June 2013 saw the members of Brixton Sai Centre hold three large service events, known locally as “Fundays”. These are usually held at care homes or at sheltered accommodation schemes and involve the members interacting with the residents and entertaining them with fun and games for a whole afternoon. This year was extra-special because it was the first time ever that Brixton had decided to hold three such events...and all in the same month! Two members give below their accounts of the activities.

Aashana House

On Sunday 2 June, Brixton Sai Centre held its first Funday of the month at Aashana House, a residential care home for older Asian people in Streatham, South London. We all got ready to go there straight after our centre’s group devotional singing to start our activities at 3pm. Our centre attends the home for monthly devotional singing, but that day was going to be special!

After starting the programme with prayers and devotional singing, we played a game of pass-the-parcel, followed by a quiz between two teams of residents. Finally, we played a game of antaaksharee (a popular singing game) which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Consecrated food (prashaad) was distributed to everyone and packets of biscuits were also offered to the residents as the day concluded at about 5:30 pm.

Truscott House

The “Funday” at Truscott House, a sheltered accommodation scheme for mainly older people in West Croydon, was held by the Centre on 15 June. Brixton normally holds a bingo session there once every month.

The day started with a sumptuous lunch, consisting of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and curry and rice, followed by apple crumble and custard for dessert, all of which cooked and served by the members. Lots of entertainment ensued, starting with pass-the-parcel, which was full of prizes and forfeits to keep everyone amused.

Thereafter, the residents were divided into two groups for a challenging quiz! After questions in no fewer than five categories, the winning team was declared and each joyfully received a gold medal.

Afterwards, there was a sing-along, which got the residents to sing and hum along and took them back to their past. Old favourites such as “Oh, what a beautiful morning”, “Molly Malone”, “Que sera, sera” and “Don’t dilly-dally (my old man said follow the van)” were sung loudly by one and all, residents and Centre members, finished off by a rousing rendition of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”!

The next item was “Play Your Cards Right”, based on the popular television game show, with our very own Bruce Forsyth! Cries of “higher” and “lower” could be heard; and fun was had by all, even though the luck of the cards played against both teams. (“You don’t get anything for a pair, not in this game!”)

But all the residents were eagerly awaiting the star item: bingo! Our bingo host even donned a special hat and cloak for the occasion! From our monthly bingo sessions at Truscott, we already knew the residents to be bingo fanatics, so it came as no surprise to us when they wanted us to carry on and on!

Freeman Court

After the first two Fundays, we were really looking forward to the final Funday at Freeman Court, on 22 June. Freeman Court is another sheltered accommodation scheme for mainly older people in Norbury, South London. As with Truscott House, Brixton holds a monthly bingo session at Freeman Court.

We served a full lunch at 12pm that was popular with all our guests. Then we played two rounds of pass-the-parcel, which the residents really enjoyed.

Thereafter, we had a quiz formed of two teams and the winning team won medals. The residents were served tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes during their short break so they could get ready for a sing-along. Everyone joined in all the songs and thoroughly enjoyed it; we even received requests for further songs, so we all kept going! To end off the day, they all played bingo and won lots more prizes.

The organisers and volunteers all lead busy lives but still dedicated their spare time to interact with the residents, many of whom were older people who helped to build this country but who are now largely forgotten. Everything was planned in detail and executed professionally. As an SSE parent, I was mesmerised by the efforts of all the organisers and volunteers who remained enthusiastic throughout the whole five-hour event, never tiring and helping to keep everyone engaged right to the end. Hats off to them!