We recently had the pleasure of visiting Burmantofts Senior Action Lunch Club, a bi-weekly service for older people in the area offering the chance to meet up with friends over a low cost healthy meal and a game of bingo. Having received funds from our Lunch Club grant this year, this invaluable service has been able to continue its vital work. This month we’ve caught up with Melanie, the Project Coordinator at BSA:
What do you offer at Burmantofts Senior Action?
Burmantofts Senior Action (BSA) works across Burmantofts, Ebor Gardens, Lincoln Green and Harehills and provides a range of services and activities for people aged 60+. We support local older people to live independent, healthy lives at home, to improve the environment in which they live and to relieve isolation and loneliness.
We offer a range of activities including twice weekly lunch clubs, friendly home visits and phone calls, gardening, trips, gentle exercise, variety of life group, stroke club, winter warmth, coffee mornings, drop in sessions, games afternoons, computer classes, pop up cinema, dance afternoons, regular newsletters and referrals to advocacy and advice services.
We also work in partnership with other services to provide our members with information on healthy living, falls prevention, crime prevention and others, as well as referring to other services for tailored advice on debt, home adaptations and other benefits.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve had since you started? Do you have a particular story you could tell?
We’ve had so many lovely moments, that it’s hard to pin one down, so we asked one of our longest standing members who has been coming for 17 years to tell us what the lunch club means to her, and this is what she said:
“I’m 84 and I am carer to my two youngest children, who are both in their 40s and have learning difficulties. Coming to the lunch club gives me my own space and time to be with people of my own age. I enjoy the variety of the lunches and I love chatting, laughing and having a joke about the funny side of life.”
“Coming to the lunch club gets me out of the house. I love speaking to the BSA staff as well – they are always on hand for a chat or when I need any help or guidance. The lunch club is my own special social space.”
Why are the services like your Lunch Club so important for older people in the area? What need is there?
Our lunch clubs provide a great opportunity for friends to meet and chat, to share a nutritious, hot two course meal at a reasonable cost and enjoy a game of bingo and a laugh twice a week. Some of our members would otherwise find it difficult to get out and meet friends and to be part of their community.
There’s significant evidence that eating alone can be a major factor in accentuating social isolation, and that people who eat alone tend not to bother cooking nutritious meals, but rather to snack. Coming to the lunch clubs can alleviate this, and ensures that people have a nutritious hot meal twice a week – plus an opportunity to catch up with friends, let BSA staff know of any issues they have that we can help with, and maintain independence.
How has Leeds Community Foundation’s Lunch Club grant supported the project? What difference has it made?
The LCF Lunch Club grant enables BSA to offer meals at an affordable cost to members.
This is vital for people on fixed incomes and makes it accessible to older people who are most at risk of becoming socially isolated.
What’s coming up for Burmantofts Senior Action?
BSA is looking forward to a busy time in the run up to Xmas. There is an Irish Lunch coming up with friends from the Cara Project at Leeds Irish Health and Homes – cards, fiddle player and delicious Irish food. Our Winter day trip to York and St Nicholas’ Fair is on 23rd November.
Members are currently attending art classes provided by East Street Arts, looking at stories of our place and lives – plus an additional session looking at archaeological finds from a dig under Eastgate. We have a Winter Wellbeing Coffee morning on 16th November from 10am-12pm, with stalls providing information about keeping safe and well over winter, and a stall selling cards and our BSA Healthy Eating Calendar for 2018, using recipes cooked and tested by our members.
Our cinema club is the last Thursday of every month (except December). The lunch clubs will be having a Christmas party in mid-December. December is always a busy time, as we have visits to the theatre, Christmas lunches and outings.
Find out more about Burmantofts Senior Action here: www.bsaleeds.org.uk
For more information about our Lunch Club grants, please check our Open Grants page for updates.