Getting out and about, making new friends or seeing old friends, overcoming loneliness, being active and taking part in social activities are all important parts of living a happy and independent life.
Although Devon is a rural county there are lots or services and organisations which run local activities and events and provide transport. There is a real mix of activities available so you should be able to find something that appeals to you.
You may want to get out to social activities with friends but struggle with transport. There are options which could help you. Please look at our transport page
The Blue Badge scheme allows severely disabled people to park nearer their destination – the Badge holder can be the driver or the passenger.
- Find out more about Blue Badges at devon.cc/bluebadge.
- Apply for a badge online at https://www.gov.uk/apply-blue-badge
- Phone us on 0345 155 1007 to find out if you are eligible.
If you have a Blue Badge and there is no off-street parking you may also be able to apply for a disabled parking bay near your home.
Fare Car operates like a shared taxi service. Passengers can book and pay separately, but share a timetabled journey. There are ten Fare Car schemes operating in Devon and anyone can book them with 24 hours notice. For more information about the scheme and a timetable call 01392 382800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you reach state pension age you can have a bus pass which gives you free off-peak travel on local buses. Adults with disabilities may also be able to apply. Find out how to apply for your bus pass at devon.cc/buspass
Your pass is valid for free travel from 9:30am to the end of service on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.
Community transport includes things like community buses which provide regular timetabled transport, ring and ride minibuses which provide door-to-door transport and community cars where a volunteer can take you where you want to go. Visit https://www.traveldevon.info/accessibility/community-transport to find a community transport scheme near you.
The Royal Voluntary Service also provides community transport in Devon. To find out if a volunteer could help you phone 01209 705159 or visit Transport Services | Community Transport | Royal Voluntary Service
Movement and sport
Walking football and basketball
Walking sports are the same as the normal version, but done at walking speed. They are growing in popularity and are ideal for people who want to keep playing the sports they enjoy and maintain their fitness. Age UK Devon runs groups across Devon visit www.ageuk.org.uk/devon/activities–events/activities-schedule to find one near you.
Many swimming pools offer gentle exercise classes like aqua-fit, adults only session and women only sessions. Find your local pool and see what they offer at devon.cc/swimmingpools There are also specific groups and classes for people who are less able or who need special support. Visit devon.cc/supportedswimming to find one near you.
Active Devon – Directory (sportsuite.co.uk)
Disabled access beaches: Devon Beaches (accessiblecountryside.org.uk)
Poolfinder | Search (swimming.org) (to search for pool hoist swimming pools)
See what sports are on in your area: Find a local activity | Parasport
Sports activities for people with Sensory needs.
Being active ideas in Devon: Ways to Move – We Are Undefeatable
Exercises for healthy joints | Back, neck, knee and foot exercises (versusarthritis.org)
Walking regularly can have huge health benefits, and there are now many guided walking groups where you can enjoy a short work as part of a small group led by a trained guide. To find a group near you visit http://devon.cc/walkinggroups You can then use the list on the right-hand side of the page to filter the results by age, ability and location.
Gyms and classes
Many gyms offer sessions specially designed for people with disabilities, people who don’t currently exercise very often and people over 50. Classes and facilities could include over 50’s badminton, short mat bowls, pools with hoists and gentle movement classes. Visit devon.cc/gymsandclasses to find your nearest gym and then phone them or visit their website to see which specific classes they do.
Additional useful links:
Ways to Move – We Are Undefeatable
Exercises for healthy joints | Back, neck, knee and foot exercises (versusarthritis.org)
Sport for veterans and armed forces leavers
There are specific sports groups for people who have served in any branch of the armed forces, with specialist support for those who may have mobility issues. Phone 01392 286261, email email@example.com or visit the Hub at 2nd Floor, Beaufort House, New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP Monday to Friday 9am-4pm to talk to someone about clubs and activities near you.
If you would like to take the first steps toward a healthier lifestyle and need a little support, try the OneSmallStep healthier lifestyle service.
Hobbies and skills
The University of the Third Age (U3A)
U3A is a movement which aims to give people who are retired or partially retired the chance to get together to learn and develop new skills. There are no formal qualifications, members share their knowledge and experience and take part in learning, outdoor pursuits, social events and outings. To find your local group visit devon.cc/u3asouthwest or phone 020 8466 6139
Many people enjoy singing and there are huge benefits for your brain and your emotions. There are a lot of choirs across Devon; some are quite formal and take part in public performances, some are more relaxed singing groups which focus on fun. Visit devon.cc/singinggroups to find your local group.
Singing for the Brain groups are based on music therapy principles and are run by The Alzheimers Society. Visit devon.cc/singingforthebrain to see the groups currently available in Devon.
There are a huge range of adult dance classes across Devon offering sequence and ballroom, tap, folk and country dance, belly dancing, salsa and Morris dancing. All classes welcome beginners, with or without partners, and most instructors will support you to go at your own pace. Visit devon.cc/dancinggroups to see the range of groups in Devon and use the menu on the right hand side to look for your area.
There are lots of craft groups in Devon covering a huge range of interests. Even more solitary pursuits like sewing and knitting, have groups where you can work alongside others, enjoy a chat and share your skills while learning new one. Visit devon.cc/craftgroups to see the groups currently running and use the menu on the right hand side to look for your area.
Making new friends
Befriending services support people who find themselves quite isolated and lonely. They offer regular contact by phone, in person or a mixture of both to help you make new friends, take part in activities or have a chat about things that interest you. Each service is different, but most offer phone chats; trips to the library, shop or cafe; or a chat at home. You can also find support if you’re dealing with a particular issue like the loss of a loved one, or caring for a family member. To find your local service visit devon.cc/befriending and use the menu on the right had side to look for your area.
Lunch clubs give you the chance to go out and enjoy a hot meal with others. They usually meet in a hall or community centre and some offer transport to the venue. You will usually need to contact the club in advance to check prices and availability and book your place. Visit devon.cc/lunchclubs and use the menu on the right-hand side to find a club in your area.
If you’re struggling to maintain relationships because you are having trouble with your memory, a memory café can be a good way to help you connect with family and friends, meet people who have memory problems and get practical help. There are memory cafes all across Devon; you can view a list of them at devon.cc/memorycafes
If you’re worried about your memory visit your GP. They will talk to you about the problems you’re having and may refer you to a Memory Clinic for an assessment. The clinic will be able to give you information, support and treatment and introduce you to your local memory café if needed.
Gransnet is an online community for grandparents to share thoughts and ask advice across a whole range of issues related to getting older. There are also discussions, articles, competitions and recipes. Visit www.gransnet.com.
u3a (The University of the Third Age)
u3a is a movement which aims to give people who are retired or partially retired the chance to get together to learn and develop new skills. There are no formal qualifications, members share their knowledge and experience and take part in learning, outdoor pursuits, social events and outings.
To find your local group:
The Filo Project
Filo gives older people the chance to get out and spend a day socialising and having lunch with a small group of others. You’re collected in the morning and taken to a host’s home with up to three other people, where you can talk, listen to music and chat, and you’re driven home again at the end of the day. The Filo Project is currently in and around Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Tiverton, Cullompton, Okehampton, Crediton, South Molton and Bideford, and is growing across Devon. To find out more phone 0333 335 3434 or visit www.thefiloproject.co.uk
Other Devon services
There are many benefits for people with disabilities joining local community clubs and groups. From a social point of view, clubs are great way to meet people and make new friends. Groups organised around specific activities are a good way to start a new hobby or spend time with people with similar interests.
The following websites can help you search for community clubs and groups in Devon:
Independent Devon charity CEDA (Community, Equality, Disability Action) runs an Activity Hub programme of events, offering learning and social opportunities for disabled adults. Activities from IT skills to Tai Chi take place in CEDA’s fully accessible building or in the community. For more information contact CEDA on 01392 360645 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mencap has specific information about the importance of friendships and a social life for people with learning disabilities.
National charity Hft also has some excellent information and advice about friendships and dating for people with learning disabilities.
Age UK social activities
Age UK run a range of activities and groups across Devon giving you the chance to do things you enjoy, take up new interests and meet new people. The groups include walking football and basketball, computer sessions and gentle exercise groups. To find out what is available in your area phone 0845 296 7810 or email email@example.com
Royal Voluntary Service
Matches you with a volunteer who can help you to stay happy and independent by providing friendship, support to go out or attend appointments and help with small jobs like changing lightbulbs or doing some gardening. The service is flexible and aims to meet your individual needs. They also run social clubs and provide community transport. Phone 01209 705159 or visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/service/1273-cornwall-and-devon
The WI gives women of all ages and backgrounds the chance to learn new skills, take part in social activities and campaign on important issues. There are over 225 local WIs in Devon and they are always happy to welcome new members. To find your local group phone 01392 255386, visit the Devon WI website at www.devon.thewi.org.uk or visit the office at The Firs, Clyst Honiton, Exeter EX5 2AN Tuesday-Friday 9am-3.30pm.
Men in Sheds
Men in Sheds give men aged 50 and over the chance to meet for a few hours a week to work together, chat and learn new skills in a shed or workshop. Age UK Devon currently run groups in Exeter and Tiverton, but local independent groups are opening all the time. Find a group near you at devon.cc/meninsheds.
or Direct Link: Find a Shed – (menssheds.org.uk)
Many places of worship also offer a range of social activities, usually organised by members. If you need help getting to activities at your place of worship click on the transport tab to see if you can get free or cheap transport help.
To find a CofE church near you visit www.achurchnearyou.com
To find any other place of worship in Devon visit devon.cc/placesofworship.
or through this page; Places Of Worship near Devon | Reviews – Yell
Groups for veterans and armed forces leavers
There are specific social groups for people who have served in any branch of the armed forces. Groups may be focused on a specific service, hobbies or skills and often have support for people with restricted mobility. The Devon Forces Family website has details of local groups visit www.devonforcesfamily.org.uk/leisure.