The Challenge

How to provide a space for socially isolated members of the community, help build relationships, improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness.

Reduce social isolation

Improve wellbeing


Mayors Parlour, Devonport Guildhall


2017 – Present


Power to Change Empowering Places

Power to Change logo

The RIO solution 

Red Velvet Cinema is a community cinema where the tea & cake is more important than the film. Our audience is made up of Golden Oldies; people who can remember the war, the community of Devonport in the 1940s and 50s and the support of multiple social connections that went with it. Red Velvet Cinema screens ‘Classic’ films and those that come enjoy the sense of nostalgia that comes with old films and vintage crockery.

Most of the individuals who come live on their own; many are widowed, some divorced. There are those that have adult children living in other parts of the country (or indeed in different countries) while others are without dependants at all. For some, it is their only time of social interaction.

I have been witnessed an improvement in the wellbeing of some of the individuals that come, particularly those that come on their own.

Patrick recently celebrated his 81st birthday at Red Velvet Cinema; he was thrilled to have two cakes and five cards from his new friends to put on his mantelpiece:

“I’ve never been married; I’ve never been in a relationship and this is the only time I speak to people other than when I do my shopping.”

Caroline Blackler, who runs Red Velvet Cinema is a peer connector on the Power to Change Empowering Places programme and is receiving support related to community business ideas.  The programme subsidises use of the Mayor’s Parlour at Devonport Guildhall.

Stats and Facts

  • The club is now recognised to have social value by the NHS and local adult social care workers
  • Loneliness can cause people to shy away from meeting new people and avoid social gatherings
  • Improvement in wellbeing
  • Red Velvet Cinema has grown from six to 25 attendees, many of whom, now attend alone
  • Research shows that many people who are lonely (at any age) can have low self-esteem, low self-belief and little confidence
How The Project Was Received

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