A FLINTSHIRE-based society is urging people to keep meeting up with friends as winter draws closer, despite the ongoing cost-of-living challenges.

Deeside Oddfellows, which has 500, mostly older and retired members based in and around Cheshire and North Wales, recognises the importance of staying social and the positive impact it has on physical and mental wellbeing.

Friendship is important during difficult times, and especially important during the winter months when people tend to retreat into their homes and mix less.

Branch secretary Denise Turner said: "Last winter was hard on people's pockets and wellbeing. Struggles around the increased cost of living meant many had to make significant cutbacks.

Members enjoying a day trip to Plas Newydd House and Gardens, Llangollen.

Members enjoying a day trip to Plas Newydd House and Gardens, Llangollen.

"At the Oddfellows, we believe friendship is an essential, particularly when times are tough and during winter when we can feel more isolated. Company provides comfort and support, and has to be prioritised.

"A good chat can bring light relief and help ease worries, and being able to share a problem might offer a new perspective."

The local friendship group also wants to remind people that socialising doesn't need to be expensive.

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Denise added: "When you're stretched financially, you've no choice but to look at how you can spend less. But it's not where you get together that matters, just that you're getting together - whether that's meeting up in the park with a flask, at each other's homes or in the local library.

"With our group meet-ups, we make sure that there are as few barriers to friendship as possible and we make them as affordable and accessible as we can."

Upcoming events being run by the group, which are open to all to try, include weekly coffee mornings (£1.50) on a Thursday, 10.30am-noon at Douglas Place Community Centre, Saltney and a Christmas lunch at Rossett Hall Hotel, Chester Road, Rossett on Thursday, December 14, at 12.30pm (£17.95 for two courses). There is also a New Year's Day stroll in Parkgate, meeting at the Old Quay pub at 11am, which is free to join.

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Janice Cooper, 66, has been a member of Deeside Oddfellows for more than 10 years.

She said: "I've got a great group of friends here at the Oddfellows. People who I can have a laugh with, but also who I know I can turn to if needs be. And it's great knowing that I've always got something in my diary to look forward to that doesn't cost the earth."

For further details about Deeside Oddfellows and to request an events diary, contact Denise on 01244 675757 or denise.turner@oddfellows.co.uk.

Visit www.oddfellows.co.uk for more information.