Royal Voluntary Service has a long history of feeding the nation; in fact almost 80 years’ worth of experience, starting out by organising canteens and tea bars for service personnel and civilians of any age during the 1939-1945 War. Since then food and companionship has been a mainstay of communities up and down the country, whether through catering in hospitals or through our network of lunch and social clubs where older people can enjoy a meal in company.
Eating with others is very important to Royal Voluntary Service, since research tells us older people eat more when they are with others. When at home alone, many do not eat a nutritious meal and are at risk of malnourishment. Eating in company also helps people feel more connected and enables them to rekindle old friendships or develop new ones.
The term older people is not always helpful. Some people may have health conditions which impact greatly on their mobility and memory at 60 but equally Royal Voluntary Service has many sprightly members aged 80+ attending groups or in some cases running them. In fact some volunteers might even refer to their ‘older ladies’ when they themselves are older than their members.
Thanks to funding from the Asda Foundation, Royal Voluntary Service is working to increase the number of clubs offering a meal to older people in local communities. The social dining clubs project is hoping to create another 56 clubs, by the end of 2018, to add to the approximately 450 clubs the charity currently operates.
These new clubs can offer a meal any time of the day, on any day of the week and in any location. Think breakfast through to supper or Sunday lunch, curry or pizza nights. They could be traditional lunch clubs where an army of volunteers produces a fresh cooked meal or a small number of volunteers organising a regular meal in a local commercial venue.
We want more people to help us reach older people to ensure that as they age they are eating regularly in company. If you think you can help in your local community, or want to find out more about our social dining clubs, visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/diningclubs
Want to help bring your community together but not sure where to start?
Hosting a Big Lunch in your neighbourhood is a brilliant way to bring your local community together through food but even the seemingly smallest of actions can make a big difference to someone who is feeling isolated, lonely or just a bit down. If you know there is an older person on your street who doesn’t get out much, try knocking on their door and inviting them round for a cup of tea.