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News 09 January 2018 l Community

Community lunch club proves a hit in Loughborough

A lunch club/day centre at Hanover Court in Loughborough is a runaway success with both residents and members of the local community alike. The event is part of a Charnwood Council funded project, initiated in response to a lack of inexpensive, accessible day care facilities.

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In partnership with local independent charity John Storer Charnwood, Hanover Court has hosted a community event every Thursday for the last eight months. Attendees can book either a full or half day session, plus there’s a very popular ‘lunch only’ option. John Storer already has a variety of lunch clubs in operation, including one in the nearby town of Shepshed. Volunteers assist at the events and provide transport to people who otherwise might have difficulty attending. They also help to spread the word about the benefits to participants of reduced social isolation, increased wellbeing and improved health and self-confidence.

Alison Barker, Hanover Court’s Estate Manager, first heard of the initiative via emails from the local council. Realising the lunch club would be ideal for some of her residents, Alison wondered if hosting an additional event in the estate’s lounge would also benefit community members in the whole of Loughborough. At the same time, it would indirectly aid promotion of the estate and create strong links with support services in the area.

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Alison says: ‘I added the Shepshed lunch club details to the residents’ newsletter, and also personally recommended it to one couple who I thought might particularly enjoy it. Commenting that the cost of £20 seemed like good value for lunch plus activities and entertainment, off they went to the next session.

‘On hearing enthusiastic feedback afterwards, I contacted John Storer to discuss setting up an additional event at Hanover Court. The residents were very positive about the day centre idea, with many being keen to help coordinate it. Although we knew it would require some hard work to make the club viable, we thought it was worth the effort.

‘I contacted care companies, waiting list applicants, social services, and delivered leaflets to households in my local area, while John Storer spoke to other local service partners and advertised via Facebook.

‘The lunch club is now thriving, hosting around 10-12 attendees per week, around half of which are from the external community. Some have already put their names down on Hanover Court’s waiting list and one person has accepted a flat, having seen at first hand the facilities and camaraderie on offer. Holding the club here has certainly helped improve my waiting list!’

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One lady, who had recently returned from hospital, said: ‘If it wasn’t for the club, I wouldn’t be getting out the door.’ Another participant commented: ‘I’m with friends, having a great time and getting out more. It’s also cheaper by far than having carers come in and cook for me!’ All in all, the lunch club project is an example of how working together can bring great benefits for all involved.

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