66 year old former nurse, Tricia Hegde has been running Royal Voluntary Service’s Mill End Lunch Club in Rickmansworth for nine years. The club is open five days a week and provides a lifeline to older people in the community – offering tasty home cooked food and all important company.
“I first became involved in the lunch club when I helped a friend who was volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service and they were short staffed. My friend just needed a hand and so of course I was happy to help. That was nine years ago now, I ended up staying because I could see how amazing the service was and now I’m running the show.
"The lunch club is open five days a week, and I will cook once a week, for around 20 diners who all come from the local area. I will always make a couple of extra meals just in case a few others turn up. I come in around 9am and lunch is served at 12.30pm, so that gives us a chance to do all the prep and cook and squeeze in a quick coffee break before everyone arrives
"My role also involves recruiting and managing volunteers, we have around 30 currently. I will also order the food and manage the clubs finances. Generally I spend six hours per week on club business, but I always ensure that I have Wednesday’s off as this is the day I spend with my grandchildren.
"I’ve never cooked professionally, but we have a rota of dishes that we make and which our diners really enjoy, such as shepherd’s pie, lasagne and casseroles. You get to know who’s coming for lunch, so I always try to make sure I make things those people like.
"People come here to have a nice lunch but get so much more as they make friends, and some have even found new partners, which is just lovely. Coming to our lunch club may be the only time a member will eat with other people or have a warm cooked meal, so it is important. It’s lovely to feed people and provide a place for them to get together. It’s a special place to be.
"If there is not a lunch club in your area, then it would be amazing to set one up, or if not a different sort of social club or activity. You can’t underestimate the social impact that it has and it’s so rewarding for the volunteers too. And volunteering is a great way to stay active and keep busy, I’m made so many new friends along the way."
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Sunday, 09 December 2018.