So Much More Than Just Another Lunch Club

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

To work in co-production with teams of older people from specific communities raising the awareness of the importance of good mental health and wellbeing.  To empower them to identify issues, come up with, and test ideas to deliver on actions to address issues identified in the “Mental Health and Wellbeing in Later Life”* report published by Age Concern and The Mental Health Foundation in 2006.

What you did?

A team of local older people supported by Healthy Communities Collaborative staff consulted with people over 50 in Alyth, visiting them in a variety of community settings and completing questionnaires to get insights into the types of activity they would support.

Selecting one of the highest priorities identified by the community the Team piloted the idea of a community lunch club.  Using the ‘Plan, Do, Study, Act’ methodology it was tailored to local needs, modifying the less successful aspects and building on successes.

The Team requested Health Promotion stalls and information on a wide range of health and social topics which had been prioritised by the community in the consultation and which was previously unavailable in this isolated rural community.

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

This community-led initiative has provided a self-sustaining lunch club:

  • there are 100 members, 30 being volunteers.
  • over 75 regularly attend monthly in summer and bi-monthly in winter
  • access to pertinent information on relevant subjects has led to increased uptake of benefits, boiler renewal and home safety checks
  • they identified the need for a local mixed ability exercise group which was established with at least 16 attending a weekly, twice there has been over 20
  • Social Care officers attend the groups bringing 10 clients

Last year they were awarded the P&K Volunteer Friendly Award; the volunteers arrange many ‘special’ lunches and surprises (such as a free Easter Egg raffle); the group sometimes act as a research resource (when members’ opinions are sought, for example, about the Care & Repair scheme; they welcome visitors who want to find out more about how they operate and the services they offer (they had a visit recently from a student who was attached to the Strathmore Dementia Project and wanted to experience the type of exercises on offer for older people) they are about to enter into a closer partnership with the Alyth Youth Partnerhsip who, through “Time Banking will offer computer tuition. They now have an annual (free) half day outing in September involving members in fund-raising (which gives additional opportunities for socialising and they liaise with other groups in the town and encourage members to join these other groups.

This reduces loneliness and isolation and promotes social inclusion.  It has addressed a range of health and social issues which were prioritised by the community and has built community capacity.

Contacts - to find out more

Jackie Doe, Project Manager
Tel: 01738 473718