How these lifeline social activities are helping to bring older people together in Calverley and Farsley

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By Diane Sullivan

“GETTING through the door can be the hard bit,” recalls Charles, a long-standing member of the weekly Lunch Club held at Calverley Methodist Church.  

Jean advises that “you need to go to things – they don’t come to you!”

A visit to the Wednesday Lunch Club really confirmed the benefits that meeting up with others for a hot meal and a chat can bring! On a dull day there was a great atmosphere as members arrived for what was described as a highlight of the week for many! 

Calverley Lunch Club provides a two-course meal and tea and biscuits for about 30 members each week for £6.  

Shirley describes the food as ‘homely and just like you would have at home’. Jean, another regular, advises: “If you don’t know anyone, you soon will, the camaraderie is smashing and you soon get to know people.”

When asked about the food, David said: “Clean plates say it all.” 

Volunteers Wendy, Sarah and Bernadine. Photo: Diane Sullivan

There is also a Lunch Club at St John’s Church Hall in Farsley. And Pudsey holds a weekly two course pub lunch in the Britannia pub – again with transport provided for a small contribution.

The Lunch Clubs are organised by MHA Communities – a Neighbourhood Network Scheme whose aim is to help local residents live later life well!

MHA Communities have offices in Pudsey and Farsley and run over 27 groups and activities for the over 55s every week. A new spring timetable has been created to provide opportunities for members to enjoy hot meals, to socialise, take part in exercise classes, develop new interests or to simply meet with others for a chat over a cup of tea.  

All groups and activities are offered at a minimum cost. To become a member, simply complete a form on your first visit. 

Oli Craven, scheme manager at MHA Communities since 2022, together with his team of six staff and support from over 50 local volunteers, has seen a growth in the number of new members, which now stands at 950. Oli grew up in Pudsey and lives locally.  

Oli is keen that services provided really meet the needs of members and reflect local demand.  Exercise is a cornerstone of the activities offered to help members to manage and improve their long-term health.  

Seated Yoga at the Masonic Hall in Pudsey on a Thursday is always popular, other exercise groups include Tai Chi, weekly Walking Groups and Line Dancing. Exercises and games for memory improvement are also proving to be really valuable to members and Mind Matters, which is held at St Wilfrid’s Cricket Club in Calverley on a Friday afternoon, is always well attended. 

Take up for both lunch and breakfast clubs increased significantly due to the rising cost of living.  The Breakfast Club at Farsley St Johns Church Hall provides a cooked breakfast and lighter options every Wednesday morning and Brunch in the Barn is a new addition to Calverley’s weekly timetable. 

Sarah, who is a newly appointed Community Co-ordinator is keen to attract more members to join Brunch in the Barn.

Penny Lane, which is suitable for people living with dementia and their carers, has also seen a rise in numbers attending – this group meets weekly at Pudsey Congs Cricket Club and professionals can attend for a taster session with no charge.  

A Mainly Men’s Social Group which meets weekly is aimed at encouraging more men to get involved. 

Mini bus trips tend to fill up quickly and run fortnightly to a variety of locations. There are also weekly shopping trips which, for members like Christine, have proved invaluable since no longer having a car. 

Volunteers like Wendy and Bernadine, who help to prepare and serve cooked meals, have been involved for 10 years and enjoy the feeling of being part of a community with lots of support and structure. 

The scheme provides lots of volunteering opportunities and in particular at the moment there is a requirement for mini bus drivers and cooks.

A Farsley Fundraiser is being held on 7 June with entertainment, pie and peas, bottle tombola and bingo all for £10. Call 0113 2909340 for tickets.

To find out more information contact telephone the Pudsey Office on 01132562717 or email – pudsey@mha.org.uk or the Farsley Office on 0113 290 9340 or email – farsley@mha.org.uk.

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