“It’s better than medicine,” is how one diner describes a weekly soup and sandwich lunch club run by Age UK Merton during the winter months.
Hilary began coming to the Thursday lunch in Mitcham’s Elmwood Centre when it launched in January. Members sit together around a table and are served a bowl of healthy homecooked soup, prepared by chef Ross.
According to Hilary: “It’s a brilliant initiative and has made a huge difference this winter. It gets us out of the house with a chance to meet people – with fantastic healthy food.”
Age UK Merton’s activity coordinator, Liz Pointing said: “Seeing the community come together, where we know this would never usually happen, is amazing. This project has grown more and more every week. Seeing it come to life has been very heart warming.”
Many members of the club live alone with family far away. But Liz has seen it forge new friendships and social connections, tackling isolation.
After the lunch on this day people stayed on to learn about relaxation from the expert mental health team at Merton Uplift who were delivering a “Tea and Talk” afternoon. This is part of a series of informative sessions at the club, in this instance offering practical help for those facing mental health struggles. There is also the chance to join other free or low-cost activities including films, exercise sessions, quizzes and much more.
Another member Gill said: “I have enjoyed the lunch today with lovely company. I will carry on coming as it’s a chance to meet new people and it will encourage me to get out more as the weather improves.”
According to Jean, who joined for the first time: “Everyone is so friendly, and the homemade soup was excellent and filling.”
The lunch club is one of many health and wellbeing events run by community organisations and funded by grants from NHS South West London this winter. The grants of up to £500 encourage people to stay healthy and have good conversations, including about NHS services and vaccination.
It has been such a success Age UK will be continuing to host further free lunches on Thursday 13 April, Thursday 18 May and Thursday 8 June 2023.
Join for lunch
The free lunch club runs every Thursday until the end of March.
There are also lunches on:
- Thursday 13 April 2023
- Thursday 18 May 2023
- Thursday 8 June 2023.
Anyone aged over 50 can drop in for a free healthy lunch but calling before to book a place is advised.