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New “rule of six” for social gatherings forces rethink for local charity

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PLANSby Active and In Touch to move their weekly meetings inside have been scuppered by new government guidance restricting gatherings to a maximum of six people.  

Post-lockdown, the charity – which supports lonely and isolated people in the community – had been hosting meetings in Frome Victoria Park for people to meet and chat.

Plans were in place to move the outdoor meetings to the Assembly Rooms at the end of the month – but as the group has been attracting around 25 people, not including volunteers, the charity has been forced to rethink its plans.

Instead, whilst the weather permits, the charity will continue meeting in the park, arranging people into groups of six and spacing the groups out in the park, at least 20 metres away from each other.

Speaking at last week’s Frome Town Council meeting, Active and In Touch director of service, Dougie Brown said, “The new government guidance is going to impact us hugely, as from the 22nd of September we were stopping the outdoor meetings anyway, because I had taken a decision that the weather was probably going to start getting worse, and we were going to use the Assembly Rooms.

“And the Assembly Rooms before today was big enough to host our Tuesday group – it can hold up to 30 people, and that was going to be fine.

“We will have to stop that now, which is a real shame as a lot of people turning up for the Tuesday group, in many cases, it is the first time that they have been out of their house in five months.

“And in many cases they also don’t have gardens. So to go back into not being able to do that is going to be really hard. If the weather stays well, the intention is to get a number of volunteers – five volunteers each with five people in their group – and then use different areas of the park – 20 metres away. The aim will be to still get 25 people who come to the group out – but we can’t meet inside.”

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