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It was eyes down for a brand new game – lockdown bingo where you can win crucial pandemic prizes like four loo rolls.

Tenants of housing association Cartrefi Conwy were at the Garden Gate for the new initiative to combat the Covid-19 blues.

But the location wasn’t Sunset Strip or even Torquay in Devon because all the action was taking place in Maes Cynbryd, Llanddulas.

The Queen Bee doing the calling was Cartrefi Conwy’s older person’s engagement officer, Nerys Veldhuizen, who is also a member of their wellbeing team.

Helping Nerys to Bang on the Drum about the popular numbers game is community engagement coordinator Megan Eldon and together they are rolling out the Bingoing Mad sessions across the county.

The mad-cap idea has been going down a storm with tenants who say it’s been their Saving Grace during lockdown.

Among them were Lee Winters-Jones and Fran Williams and their three Young and Keen children who were thrilled after winning a bag of Haribo sweets.

Lee said: “We have lived here since 2013 and I can say that lockdown has brought the street closer together. It’s been a long time, too long, but it has helped neighbours to make friends.

“The bingo session was great fun and a fantastic idea. Yes, I was chuffed with my Haribo win but the prizes really don’t matter it’s just about getting everyone out of their homes and joining in.”

Nerys said: “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way things have gone with Bingoing Mad. The problem is we can’t go out into the community as we normally would but it quickly became apparent tenants needed some form of safe community engagement.

“Llanddulas is the third session we have held and we have more planned. Basically, it involves me sitting in the street calling numbers with tenants sat in the doorways or gardens marking their bingo cards.

“It’s not like we play for big stakes, a full house will win a pack of four toilet rolls and a line, a bag of Haribo sweets. But it’s not about what you win it’s about taking part and having fun.

“We also play a few songs and perhaps have a socially distanced dance. The feedback has been amazing and it’s clear tenants appreciate the sessions.”

She added: “It’s important we tackle loneliness. It’s a major issue we must combat, it’s my main focus. It doesn’t matter how old you are you can be lonely.

“All our community centres are closed and will have to remain shut for now so getting people out of their front doors and giving tenants an opportunity for social interaction is vital.

“This is why we have had to come up with innovative ways of getting people out of their homes and interacting with each other.”

For those that can’t come out of their homes Nerys and other members of the Cartrefi Conwy well-being team have now started Zoom bingo sessions so tenants can play online.

She said: “If there’s one thing I will take out of the whole Coronavirus health crisis it’s the importance of being online and digital technology.

“It’s a way of keeping in touch with the outside world and something I really want to encourage our older tenants to embrace. It’s something we are going to really focus on.

“But the Bingo-ing Mad sessions have been great. It’s actually a chance for me to have social interaction with many of our tenants too. It’s lovely to see people out there of all ages smiling, having fun and interacting with each other.”

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