New lunch club spreads warmth and friendship

June 2012

 

More than a dozen elderly and isolated men and women were given a warm welcome by a team of enthusiastic volunteers recently as they arrived at St Mary's Parish Hall in Blackhill for the opening of Kennedy Lunch Club.

Kennedy Lunch Club is the latest PACE (Parishes and Community Enablement) project to open, each one set up as a result of the dedication and commitment of parish priests, local volunteers and St Cuthberts Care to working together to improve the quality of life for some of the most vulnerable and needy people in the region.

As the new lunch club guests gathered, everyone was soon settled in and enjoying a friendly chat with others, sharing coffee and home-made cakes or relaxing with a newspaper or magazine. After a few games of bingo and a sing-along, volunteers waited on tables, serving a nutritious, home-cooked lunch and delicious dessert as guests continued to enjoy their new or existing friendships.

Although guests are the main focus of any PACE project, they aren't the only ones to benefit. Many volunteers also gain a great deal from being involved and helping out.

Alma had her first taste of volunteering on the opening day at the Kennedy Lunch Club. "I've had some personal tragedies in my life, but was lucky enough to have a wonderful community rally round and support me. Because I've been so lucky, I want to repay the kindness people have shown me by giving something back. I'm really looking forward to helping others."

One of the guests whose life will certainly get better, thanks to the team of volunteers who generously give their time every week, is Mary. "I live in sheltered accommodation and sometimes feel like I'm in prison because I don't see anyone and can't get out often. It's going to be lovely coming here and having a chat with others; that's the most important thing to me."

Kennedy Lunch Club is open every Thursday in St Mary's Parish Hall from 10.30am until 2.30pm and costs £3 per person. For more information or to book a place, ring 01207 502320.