Friendship and conversation on the menu at new lunch club

February 2013

Just four weeks after Vianney's opened its doors for the first time, the Hartlepool-based lunch club is already changing lives and attracting support from local companies.

Around 20 regular guests are now meeting every Tuesday at St. John Vianney's parish hall where they are able to socialise, make new friends, join in games and enjoy entertainment and a delicious home-cooked meal. Almost all of the guests live alone and, before the lunch club opened, had little or no opportunity to socialise with others. “The TV was often the only company I had,” said one lady.

One elderly gentleman finds Vianney's gives him a much-needed break from looking after his wife, who is bedridden. For him, the lunch club not only provides a hearty meal that he doesn't have to prepare himself, but just as importantly, gives him the opportunity to relax with others and enjoy some friendly conversation.

Both guests and volunteers are finding that Vianney's is quickly becoming the highlight of their week, with many close bonds already established.

Funding from the local business community is also coming in, which will help secure the long-term future of Vianney's, with donations recently received from the Teesside branches of SABIC, Heerema and Huntsman.

Parish priest, Fr. Nic Jennings is delighted to see the lunch club doing so well and, as a newcomer to the area himself, fully understands what an asset it is to the local community. “Everyone is brimming with enthusiasm and ideas,” said Fr. Nic. “People are getting to know each other and forming friendships which extend beyond the times of the lunch club. We couldn't have hoped for a better start.”

Vianney's is one of 14 Parish and Community Enablement (PACE) projects around the region to be set up with the support of St Cuthberts Care and local parishes. Each one is run by a team of dedicated volunteers to help and support vulnerable, lonely and elderly people in their own community.

Vianney's Lunch Club is held every Tuesday between 11am and 2pm in St John Vianney's parish hall on King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool. If you or someone you know would like to attend or would like more information about the lunch club, please ring 01429 281420.