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Big demand sees lunch club expand
A LUNCH club based in the new Pinetrees Community Centre, in Pinehurst , has been hailed as a huge success – and has expanded its operation hours due to increased popularity.
The Pinetrees Cafe Lunch Club, which is staffed by volunteers, serves affordable cooked meals to customers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the aim of helping often isolated people to socialise over fresh, nutritious food.
When it started in March about 17 people turned up, but the turn-out is now regularly between 50 and 55. The club is running throughout the summer holidays, when other lunch clubs often close. And the members have also established a social enterprise, with a committee structure, which will help the club to raise funds for other activities and events, such as days out and a Christmas party.
Centre manager Neil McNally said: “We used to operate on a Tuesday and we have now extended to the Thursday as well. And we’re looking to expand it to another day, which will either be a Wednesday or a Friday.
“It’s just because we think there’s a need. Also it’s nice to give them the options on the days.
“Every week we get one or two more people. There’s a lot of people in isolation and the majority of these people come singularly and they’ve got friends now.”
There are about 12 volunteers in total from across Swindon, about half of whom are on shift on any given day, who serve the meals. Among them is grandmother-of-one, Michelle Trace, 48, of Covingham , who signed up in May.
She said: “Originally I was looking for an admin volunteer job and this came up and I thought I might get into the office, but I liked this so much I’m happy doing it.
Customer Tina Miles, 50, of Pinehurst, has attended the lunch club every week with her family and friends since it started.
She said: “It’s a good atmosphere. We’ve met a lot of people here. The food is lovely. The volunteers are brilliant.”
The club runs from noon to 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays offering a two-course meal for £3.90. Customers can just turn up. The club is also seeking more volunteers. Call 01793 616309.
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