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Award-winning lunch bunch club brings back together some of Kendal's most isolated residents

13 September 2021

  • Bay Health and Care Partners

A lunch club at Kendal Parish Church has restarted and is bringing together six of Kendal’s elderly frail residents every week. The Lunch Bunch club gives people the opportunity to have a healthy meal and socialise with others to help improve their wellbeing. Numbers have had to be limited to ensure everyone remains socially distanced due to COVID but the club hopes to increase numbers in the near future.

The initiative is run by a group of volunteers and supported by Helen Pateman, Kate Tordoff and Gillian Cowburn from the People’s Café, Trudy Brayshaw and Alison Nicholson from Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) and Natalie Chapple, a local Carer.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown, Lunch Bunch club sessions were paused and the project had to switch to delivering meals once a week to members of the community who attend the club. The initiative was awarded the High Sheriff of Cumbria’s special recognition award last year for its efforts.

Gillian Cowburn, one of the organisers from the People's Café, said: “All the people who come to Lunch Bunch have said it's just lovely to be with other people. COVID confinement has been the cruellest for older people. Some people were worried about coming along but they all say they can't wait to come back. I get so much from doing this. I absolutely love it. We make a nourishing meal for them and by doing so we feed their souls. It's not just about the food.”

Feedback from people attending the sessions has included:

  • “It gets you out, plus the fact my children live the other end of the country and I don't get to see them," Keith.
  • " I enjoyed the company as it's really nice to reminisce. The food is beautiful, it was a lovely dinner and I'm made to feel very welcome," Anita.
  • "It's a day out, I enjoy it from the getting ready to the walk home. It makes for a beautiful day and I get to make new friends," Vera.

Cara Stride, Development Lead for Kendal ICC, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to provide the Lunch Bunch club again to some of our most isolated residents in Kendal and we’ve had some really heartwarming feedback from people."

Lunch Bunch has been running since 2018 and uses donated food from local businesses to reduce wastage. The project initially started with volunteers delivering monthly free hot meals to housebound and elderly members of the community. The nursing team at Kendal ICC recognised it would be a great idea to bring together the local residents in an effort to combat loneliness and so the Lunch Bunch was launched.

As well as switching to a meal delivery service during the pandemic, volunteers checked in regularly with residents to make sure they were okay and even had themed visits including on Victory in Europe (VE) Day to raise their spirits. Kendal ICC also worked with the emergency planning group who donated items such as posies and bulbs for the residents to plant.