After months of hard work and planning by Hackenthorpe Community Centre’s Voluntary Manager, Sue Smith, Hackenthorpe Lunch Club has opened its doors for its first lunch.
More than 30 older people enjoyed a turkey lunch together at the centre which was decorated for the festive season with a beautiful tree and garlands.
The day was the result of joint working led by Sue involving Sheffield City Council’s property services, locality management team and voluntary sector liaison team, local councillors and Voluntary Action Sheffield.
Sue will continue to oversee proceedings with local resident Nicola Hodson now managing the club on a twice weekly basis with support from the Community Payback team running the kitchen.
There has been a lunch club at the community centre for more than 10 years but earlier this year the club had to close when there was nobody available to run it. Now it’s back and open for business again and its members are delighted.
Sue said: I care about the local community and that’s why I’ve been a volunteer running the community centre for the past 20 years. When the last club closed, I noticed a lot of local older people weren’t getting out anymore. I wanted to do whatever I could to get it going again. I was surprised when I had over 60 people interested.
Member Francis Wright said: It’s not so much the food, it’s the company you come for. The sentiment was echoed by another member saying It’s good to be back.
Sheffield City Council’s Lunch Club Fund currently provides small grants to 52 lunch clubs across the city, supporting them to help reduce loneliness and isolation experienced by older people. The fund also provides a grant to Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) for a Lunch Club Development Worker and service.
Councillor Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: Lunch clubs play an important role in our local communities and for some people, lunch clubs are their only opportunity to go out, make new friends and learn about what’s going on in their community. The clubs rely on volunteers and our biggest thanks go to them for making sure that they are still here. We’re always looking for more volunteers to help out and new members too of course.
Volunteers are always needed at lunch clubs to perform a range of essential roles from cooking to running activities and escorting members on transport. People who would like to volunteer at the lunch club should contact VAS Sheffield on 0114 253 6650.
Those interested in joining a lunch club should contact VAS lunch club referral service 0114 253 6674.
More information is at www.sheffield.gov.uk/lunchclubs