Modern board games have come a long way. They are engaging, accessible, inclusive and tickle parts of our brains in the most delightful way. I am not talking about old games like Monopoly or Cluedo, which rank at the bottom of the list of over 23,500 board games (to date). The mechanics of modern board games allow players full control of actions, balancing of decisions and a sprinkle of luck in the mix.
I have played board games for many years. I am part of a gaming group that meets weekly, where we try a plethora of new games and replay classic ones. In 2019 I had a severe mental health breakdown and our weekly gaming meetings became a life saver for me. It was then that I discovered the benefits of having a supportive social environment and started researching the mental health benefits of board games. I did a mental health first aid course and created Games for Wellbeing.
In December 2019 Comic Relief granted a small fund to pilot Games for Wellbeing in Llanidloes in North Powys (supported by LLANI Ltd). The first two sessions were well received (15-20 participants), but then the pandemic hit. The project tried to adapt by becoming a library of games and as restrictions eased it was hosted again face to face at the Hanging Gardens in the town.
At present Games for Wellbeing is looking for funding to expand into a permanent library of games at the Hanging Gardens, and to focus on the younger generations by bringing in role playing games and graphic novels. It runs every Thursday from 6-9pm and, as always, it is free for everyone.
Feedback from participants
“I’ve learned of new games, met new people and been entertained. The evenings have helped me feel less isolated and more a part of the community.” – Lawrence R
“I enjoy coming to the games evening as I live on my own so it does me good to come and socialise and learn new games. I really look forward to coming each week.” (sic) Marian H
“I absolutely love these game evenings. I’ve discovered so many new games and stretched my brain and had lovely evenings with people I’ve just met; and we’re all having a great time!” – Keran
“Well the games evening is amazing. It really helps the community for people to come out and to socialise. And to learn and play new games and it really helps intellectually. I hope the Games Evening will carry on. It means a lot to have them once a week.” – (sic) Elsa C.J.