THIS weekend marks a special occasion for a non-profit organisation making a big difference in the local community.

Waterside Boardgaming, a locally run company which hosts free monthly board gaming events, is celebrating its first birthday.

To mark the first anniversary since Waterside Boardgaming began its monthly meet-ups, a special birthday event is due to take place this Sunday.

Monthly sessions cater to all levels of interest in board gaming and even include a raffle. Attendees at the events usually range between 60 and 90 and include board gaming enthusiasts from all over Hampshire and the surrounding areas.

Founder and organiser Luke Allen said: “I started the group post-covid to try and bring the community back together and tackle social isolation, helping people find new friendships through the hobby.”Daily Echo:

Luke continued: “In one year we have reached nearly 600 members on our facebook group. I am proud to say that many new friendships have formed and people often get together outside of events.

“Our number one goal is to be the most inclusive board gaming group around, developing our ethos of open tables and open minds. 

“It is tough enough learning a new hobby and meeting new people, so we make things as welcoming and enjoyable as possible for everyone. 

“This approach has resulted in is being signposted to by the Waterside Wellbeing Team through all the local GPs for loneliness and isolation.”

Talking about the monthly events, which take place on a different Sunday of each month, Luke said:  “We do what we can to make it accessible for new members and new players in general. 

“Other than offering everybody name badges - remembering names is hard - our core volunteer team stand out wearing their scrabble piece name badges. 

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“We run a welcome table at events between 1pm-2.30pm where we play short lightweight games, open for anybody to sit down and enjoy a new experience and learn new games. 

“The welcome table then turns into an open table for a more complex game, taught by one of our members, which anyone at the event is welcome to join

“Multiple other attendees have the same open table policy, and our team keep tabs on the games being set up so that we can direct people to games and introduce to hosts and players.

 “Vibrant Forest Taproom is as good a venue as we could ever hope for and with their quality drinks and the various monthly street food vendors, we look forward to each and every month. 

“All of our regular attendees make the events feel special, but special recognition needs to be given to our amazing team of volunteers who go above and beyond to help with events and new initiatives.”

Waterside Boardgaming's anniversary meet-up will take place on Sunday May 21 at Vibrant Forest Taproom, Hythe, between 1pm and 6pm.

For more dates and further information visit .