A group of volunteers who run a lunch club for some of Kendal’s most vulnerable people has been awarded the High Sheriff of Cumbria’s special recognition award.
The Lunch Bunch club project is held twice-monthly at Kendal Parish church and brings together around 36 of Kendal’s elderly frail residents. It is supported by Helen Pateman, Kate Tordoff and Gillian Cowburn from the People’s Café, Trudy Brayshaw and Alison Nicholson from Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) and Natalie Chapple, a local Carer.
The project, which has been running since 2018, uses donated food from local business to reduce wastage.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown, the project has had to switch to delivering meals once a week to members of the community who attend the Lunch Bunch club.
Cara Stride, Kendal ICC Development Lead, said: “The project initially started with volunteers delivering monthly free hot meals to housebound and elderly members of the community.
“Our nursing team recognised that it would be a great idea to bring together the local residents in an effort to combat loneliness and so the Lunch Bunch idea was launched. By gathering together the local residents for a couple of hours each month they have the added benefit of company and friendship. Sometimes the sessions are themed and have craft activities. The people who attend do not have the confidence or ability to leave the house alone.
“Due to the pandemic and lockdown, the service has had to go back to delivering meals to members of the community. Our volunteers are still checking in with them to make sure they are okay, we’ve had VE themed visits to raise their spirits and our regular newsletters have been distributed with useful information and support. Kendal ICC has also been working with the emergency planning group who have been tremendous and have donated items such as posies and bulbs for the residents to plant.”
Gillian Cowburn said: “What's not to love about Lunch Bunch. It demonstrates perfectly the importance of food not only for health but also for social wellbeing. And that's as true for the volunteers who prepare the meals as it is for the lovely folk who enjoy it.
“Lunch Bunch is a vital lifeline on every level. It has created lasting bonds of friendship and in terms of a feel-good factor for all involved, it’s off the scale.”
Feedback from residents has included:
“Nice company. The food is delicious and it means I don’t have to cook. It gives me hope. You don’t realise the difference it makes to see someone smiling.”
“It’s a marvel. The team are a bunch of angels. It’s very good and I look forward to coming here. I would prefer it to be every fortnight. Trudy and Alison have looked after me. I can’t complain.”
Kendal Integrated Care Community (ICC) was created in 2016 to help bring together local health and care professionals, GPs, the voluntary sector and the community to work as one team. The focus of the ICC is to ensure that the people of Kendal are supported to improve their own health and wellbeing and that when people are ill or need support, they receive the best possible joined-up care.
The ICC has been running Frailty Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings by using the latest technology - Microsoft 365 Teams - with staff from different health and care organisations across the Bay. The meetings give staff the chance to discuss any concerns and make decisions regarding the treatment of individual patients. During the pandemic, Kendal ICC has also been working closely with the Emergency Planning Group and has referred patients into its nursing team to provide wrap-around support and advice.
Kendal ICC is also working closely with local primary schools on the ‘I Matter’ Framework which gives families and teachers the tools they need to help children make the transition from primary school to secondary school.
You can find out more about Kendal ICC at https://www.morecambebayccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/integrated-care-communities/kendal-icc
This new way of working is another example of Bay Health and Care Partners working together more effectively to provide better care in the community, which will keep people across Morecambe Bay healthier and at home for longer without having to come into hospital.