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2160. Diane Waldron

Diane Waldron, from Cambridge, leads ‘5asidechess’, an initiative using a shortened version of chess to engage people facing loneliness, social isolation, and mental health difficulties.

‘5asideCHESS’ was co-founded by Ross Smith as a social enterprise in 2015, who was inspired to help tackle the levels of disconnection and inequality that he saw in society. Diane now leads the project, aiming to support those facing social isolation and help prevent subsequent mental health issues and depression. The enterprise has a permanent cafe space in Cambridgeshire, where they hold a number of other regular events in addition to regular chess club sessions, including children’s storytelling sessions, a men’s comedy club, a philosophy club and, have also partnered with fellow Points of Light, KickOff@3, to hold a local giant chess tournament.

Since 2015, thousands of ‘5asidechess’ sets have been distributed to community spaces, libraries, cafes and bars nationwide. They also run a ‘WingMAN’ programme in prisons, and have established a ‘5asideCHESS’ Battling Suicide Bus, a mobile unit touring the country and using chess to encourage people to have conversations around mental health and earlier this year completed a section of fellow Point of Light, Mike McCarthy’s Baton of Hope tour.

Diane said:
“We have travelled the length and breadth of the UK with the ‘5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus’ and know that the mental health problems caused by loneliness and social isolation are causing massive issues in our society. The antidote can only be connection and helping people to help themselves which is what we are focussed on bringing about. We are taken aback to receive this award but delighted to have the opportunity to spread what ‘5asideCHESS’ is about to a broader audience.”

See more about “5asideCHESS

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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