A lunch club at Kendal Parish Church has restarted and is bringing together six of Kendal’s elderly residents every week.

The Lunch Bunch club gives people the opportunity to have a healthy meal and socialise with others to help improve their wellbeing. Numbers have had to be limited to ensure everyone remains socially distanced but the club hopes to increase numbers in the near future.

The initiative is run by a group of volunteers and supported by Helen Pateman, Kate Tordoff and Gillian Cowburn from the People’s Café, as well as Trudy Brayshaw and Alison Nicholson from Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) and Natalie Chapple, a local carer.

During the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, Lunch Bunch club sessions were paused and the project had to switch to delivering meals once a week to members who attend the club and the initiative was awarded the High Sheriff of Cumbria’s special recognition award last year for its efforts.

Gillian Cowburn said: “All the people who come to Lunch Bunch have said it's just lovely to be with other people. COVID confinement has been the cruellest for older people. Some people were worried about coming along but they all say they can't wait to come back. I get so much from doing this. I absolutely love it. We make a nourishing meal for them and by doing so we feed their souls. It's not just about the food.”

Lunch Bunch has been running since 2018 and uses donated food from local businesses to reduce wastage and the project initially started with volunteers delivering monthly free hot meals to housebound and elderly members of the community.

As well as switching to a meal delivery service during the pandemic, volunteers checked in regularly with residents to make sure they were okay and even had themed visits including on Victory in Europe (VE) Day to raise their spirits. Kendal ICC also worked with the emergency planning group who donated items such as posies and bulbs for the residents to plant.