Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, Rushall Community Centre hosts a lunch for elderly members of the local community.
A group of hard-working volunteers set the tables, cook the food and serve plenty of tea. And to the group of older people under their care, afford them a precious opportunity to connect with others; to make and strengthen close friendships. Starting at noon on those three days each week, volunteers for Manor Farm’s Silver Scheme build a space where older people are made to feel welcome, and are given the time and attention that is often found wanting.
For all the benefits of modern society, many of traditional mediums of communal experience have been lost. There is an absence of social gatherings that could once be found in local churches and tight-knit family groups who lived very close to one another. Neighbourly traditions have been left behind, and families often live busy lives separate from one another. Friendships and acquaintances are lost or drift away, and through no one’s fault older people can often find themselves alone.
This is why schemes like the lunch days run by Manor Farm Community Association are important. They can help address problems specific to the community in a way no broad governmental scheme could legislate for. They can give the community a service that’s sorely needed, directly to the people who need it the most.
I met one of the members of the lunch days a short while ago. I hadn’t long arrived, and was drinking a cup of coffee alone in a quiet corner, when she looked over and said: “What are you doing over there all on your own?” She was an older lady who’d become a regular. She got me chatting, and an hour went by before I’d realised. She told me that’s how it was at these events; if you’re sitting on your own, someone will come along and say hello. Everyone joins in, and everyone there, both the members and the volunteers, make sure no one is neglected. New members quickly become part of the group, and any who are reticent about the lunch days at the start, soon seem to become enthusiastic regulars.
Winter can be a difficult time for older members of the community, but during the cold days ahead, there’s a place to go where they can sit and rest in the warm glow of kindness found in the company of others. If you know someone who might benefit from these lunch days, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Manor Farm. The radiators are on, the tea is ready, and everyone’s welcome!
by Sam Harrison, Volunteer with Manor Farm Community Association
The Manor Farm Community Association Silver Service is funded through a grant from the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund for which we are exceptionally grateful.