We are three lunches in now, and 2019 is looking as busy as ever! Our March lunch was the first time we were really put to the test. Our very own cook (my lovely mum) had double booked her weekends, which meant she wouldn’t be with us on Sunday until much later! I knew this day would have to eventually come, but a year and a half in I felt much more prepared for it!
We had a lot of time to prepare, but I don’t think I was prepared for the outpouring of love and support from our amazing volunteers. This was proven when on the day, I arrived much earlier so I could ‘let everyone in’ but in fact was greeted by a car park full of volunteers! Everyone was ready to go and within minutes of me opening up, the well-oiled Welbeloved machine was in full swing. Volunteers in the kitchen were preparing, peelers were peeling, volunteers in the hall were setting up, it was truly amazing. It was in that moment that I realised this really isn’t my club anymore, it’s really now just a community and everyone’s property. It was truly humbling to look around and witness how much everyone loves and cares for the club as if it were their own, and cares so much about the success despite being a cook down. I in fact, didn’t need to be there! I’m beyond grateful – the club is in safe hands with or without me and mum and I can’t believe we are at that stage.
Has anyone ever had that weird feeling when getting married or hosting your own birthday party, you look around the room and think the majority of the people in this room all know me, but do not know each other. They would never have met if it wasn’t for me, yet they are getting on so well?! That’s how I feel at club now. The Welbeloved Club has always been about friendship, but this doesn’t have to stop at our guests. Our volunteers are making new friends, and it’s ever so clear when we are preparing in the morning. Everyone is chatting and laughing and having fun, with people they have met because of me and mum. There is so much love in the building from start to finish which defines what it means to be a part of The Welbeloved Club.
Anyway, soppiness aside! On the menu this month was a delicious roast chicken dinner, followed by bakewell slice and custard (all homemade of course!). Safe to say yet again, there really wasn’t much left! We also too had some more new faces, having heard lots about mum’s cooking and wanting to give it a try themselves. It’s thrilling to know that even after all this time, the new members signing up has not dwindled. We have on average 2-4 new members every month and are rapidly reaching capacity.
That leads me to my next bit of news. I have just completed a small grant to East Herts Council in the hope we can purchase a new oven! This will enable us to cook more food on the premises, and therefore cater for our growing numbers. The oven would be used at the hall we are currently in but will be fully portable and would be the property of The Welbeloved Club. We had lots of messages of support for this grant and received a number of endorsements from East Herts Councillors, so fingers crossed we are successful. Check back for updates!
Just before Christmas, I reached out to a charity called ‘Small Acts of Kindness’, who put together goody bags for older people to help them through the winter months and difficult times. The bags are almost like a ‘survival kit’ and have lots of useful information for people who live on their own and have a number of different needs. The charity so very kindly provided us with 80 bags, a number far greater than I asked for!! Based in Watford, two of our gorgeous volunteers (who happen to be my very good friends) went all the way over there and collected the bags for our guests. They travelled back absolutely drowning in the bags (having only travelled in a mini!) but safe to say, our guests really appreciated them. I too really appreciated the effort they went to just for me, especially as they both had to undergo a very brief unexpected safety assessment on arrival as they were going into a large warehouse. Sorry ladies! But also thank you so much.
Our next lunch is Sunday 14thApril, just a week shy of Easter. The Easter holidays can be an incredibly lonely time for older people who live on their own, as the long weekend can prove even more isolating than most weekends. We hope to host an Easter lunch full of good company, laughter and love, but I hope you will join me in looking out for those most vulnerable, and perhaps offer an extra seat around your table this Easter.
Our raffle money this money went to Retune – a small CIC connecting creativity and music with positive mental wellbeing.
See you in a few weeks!
P.S. – Don’t forget you can support us via the East Herts Lottery! Details on http://www.easthertslottery.co.uk