Birley Spa lunch club on the lookout for new volunteers

Birley Spa lunch club is on the hunt for new volunteers so that it can continue providing twice weekly sessions to 39 local older people at Hackenthorpe Community Centre.

Birley Spa lunch club receives grant funding from the council and provides a hot, two course meal to its members twice a week. Those who attend enjoy the time to chat and meet friends, play bingo and go out on day trips together.

After years of running the lunch club, the current club organiser, who has volunteered their time freely until now, is stepping down at the end of May, welcoming a retirement from the role. The club has made a real difference to the lives of its members and all those that have been involved in the running of the club.

Unfortunately there isn’t a volunteer team to hand over the running of the club to and the last lunch will be on Wednesday 30th May unless new volunteers step forward. It’s an opportunity for the local community to get together and think about what they’d like to enjoy and run in their area.

Sheffield City Council has supported the development of more than 50 lunch clubs for many years, recognising the important role these clubs play in helping to reduce the social isolation that may accompany old age, frailty and bereavement. The majority of the clubs are independent self-help groups run by older people for older people. They offer an opportunity for older people to meet together, to share a meal and socialise.

If anyone would like to volunteer to set up a new club, Adele Hunt, Voluntary Sector Liaison Officer at Sheffield City Council can provide information on what’s involved in running a club and what skills and commitment are needed. She can offer information and contacts on a range of topics such as working out a budget, health and safety laws, membership referrals, fundraising, equipment needed, volunteer inductions, club constitutions, activities and record keeping. Although the current grant fund isn’t open to new applications, a new club in Birley could be supported with an interim grant subject to meeting funding criteria and having volunteers who can be financially accountable for funding.

Adele said: “We would love new volunteers to come forward with some exciting ideas. There is no restriction on which day of the week the club should run or what other activities they could provide to members. Everything is an option if somebody has the idea and commitment to make it happen.”

Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “Lunch clubs play an important role in our local communities and rely on volunteers to make sure that they continue. Feedback shows that the regular opportunity to meet and chat is one of the most important things members value and for some, the weekly lunch club is their only opportunity to socialise. We hope that Birley Spa lunch club stays open because of the difference it makes to its local community.”

Adele can be contacted on 0114 273 4631 by anyone interested in setting up a new club in Birley.

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.