A LOTTERY funded project has moved online to ensure isolated elderly people are not alone.

The Warm and Toasty Club, a social group for the over-60s, normally meets at three venues in Colchester to offer support and friendship.

Now the silver surfers have embraced the digital age to ensure those friendships are maintained and take part in weekly memory afternoons on Facebook Live.

Founder Jonno Casson, 55, said it has also started a newsletter to which members contribute and he calls members throughout the week.

The club, so called as it aims to create a warm and welcoming environment, has almost 200 members and is supported by National Lottery funding.

Mr Casson described the memory afternoons as “like a little zany TV show”, adding: “It’s just a group of people getting together, having a laugh, sharing stories.”

He added: “What people are saying to us now is they’re really enjoying it and it’s become the new essential part of their week for our regulars who can get on to Facebook.

“We like being silly. It’s about escapism.

“It’s about switching off from the day-to-day worries that we all have, the whole world has, at the moment. It’s just about community and being connected, remaining connected in these dark times.”

A further £600 million of National Lottery funding has been announced to support good causes which combat loneliness and isolation, provide support for the elderly, or projects which support physical and mental health in the community.

It aims to span the arts, community and charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.

Dawn Austwick, chairwoman of the National Lottery Forum, said: “The National Lottery has always supported projects that help people and communities across the UK thrive.

“Now the funds available are switching focus to support communities to mitigate the pressure they are coming under as the country rallies to overcome Covid-19.”