Voluntary Action Sheffield Lunch Clubs appeal for new volunteers

Lunch Clubs in Sheffield are appealing for new volunteers to help keep them running, as falling numbers of volunteers has resulted in almost 10 Lunch Clubs closing.

Sheffield usually has a strong and vibrant network of Lunch Clubs with around 90 clubs currently active in the city, serving 77,000 meals per year to local older people, thanks to the time and energies of approximately 750 volunteers. However Voluntary Action Sheffield’s Lunch Clubs Development Worker, Maria Flude, is concerned that a steady decline in club volunteers could jeopardise the future of some of them.

“Sheffield can be really proud of its strong Lunch Club network,” said Maria. “However a recent drop in volunteers has sadly resulted in some clubs having to close over the past 12 months. I know of at least 20 clubs that are in danger of closing in the next 2-3years if new volunteers can’t be found, and the impact of this would be that at least 400 older people in our city would lose this vital community service.

Maria said, “A few hours spent at a Lunch Club can make a real difference to older people’s lives. As well as providing a healthy, homemade meal they also provide informal help and support with health, social care and day-to-day needs. There are social and wellbeing benefits too, as it is often the only social interaction that some of the members may have.”

Lunch Club volunteers are typically required one day a week to help prepare and serve meals, chat with members, help organise social activities, and maybe help with some paperwork too. They can get a lot of benefits themselves from helping out at Lunch Clubs, as they see how they are really enhancing somebody else’s life and are actively supporting members of their local community.

Brian Spychala has been volunteering at St Swithun’s Lunch Club and William Temple Lunch Club for four years. “Anyone who volunteers will experience real benefits for themselves. I get a lot out of volunteering at my clubs – you can see that your help is making a real difference to someone’s life and is making them happy, which makes you happy. I’ve made some good friends here too, and we all look out for each other.

“St Swithun’s has been running for about 10 years. It’s a great place, with about 30 members who really seem to enjoy it, and some brilliant volunteers helping out. I feel very sad that I’m unfortunately not able to run both Lunch Clubs anymore, so consequently we are currently looking for a new organiser and a cook – a Lunch Club can’t do anything without them! The most important quality for a Lunch Club volunteer is someone who genuinely cares about people, with a friendly and welcoming personality.”

There are Lunch Clubs across the city that are currently looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved and helping with a Lunch Club, contact Maria Flude at Voluntary Action Sheffield on 0114 253 6698, who will put you in touch with a club in your area.

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