I can’t believe Easter is upon us! The time is passing so fast – I can’t believe we are at our fourth lunch of the year already.
Easter is an important time for us at The Welbeloved Club as like Christmas, we have many guests who are likely to be spending the occasion alone. Not everyone celebrates the Easter festivities, but we all reap the benefits – especially the long weekend! For some however, Easter just means more time on your own. Shops are closed, families and neighbours are away, and normal routines are disrupted.
Last year, nationwide charity The Silverline (who provide a 24-hour helpline for lonely older people) reported they received A CALL A MINUTE over the Easter weekend. I imagine this year was no different, with more people than ever feeling that sting of loneliness over the Spring time annual holiday.
With this in mind, we were determined to give our guests a lunch to remember and I hope we did just that. We hosted 92 guests this month – our largest number yet! We have had a further 6 people sign up so it’s time to purchase even more equipment and resources! We need to continue fundraising for vital supplies including equipment, ingredients, admin costs (older people prefer written communications!), transport, venue hire…the list goes on!
Money aside, the fact we are at capacity now each month is a testament to the hard work we are all putting in. Sure, Mum and I are doing the leg work month to month to keep the club going, but on the day it’s all down to the fantastic, generous, hardworking volunteers we have. Everything runs like clockwork on the day and the guests have a great experience from start to finish. One of our guests said, ‘it was so nice to have a room full of chatter, I don’t hear that anymore’.
I think as a team; we sometimes forget what our guests come away with. Yes, they have full bellies, probably more wine than they should and often a raffle prize or two. However, we must remember the very fact that, for 2-3 hours on the loneliest day of the week, we have provided a safe, loving, and welcoming environment for them to escape to. That alone goes beyond anything we could provide materialistically. We were delighted to see that Jean, one of our regulars, had been given a Welbeloved Club ‘gift voucher’ by her family! The voucher paid for three lunches as part of a birthday present. How wicked is that!
Lunch this month was also a massive treat as it was of course, roast lamb. Many of our guests say anyway they don’t often have a hot meal anymore as it’s too much like hard work making it just for one person, but lamb is something they certainly don’t make for themselves! Our butcher Bob again did us a fantastic deal and provided the most delicious produce.
You would think a two-course meal would leave no room for extras, but you are wrong! Thanks to one of our super volunteers Felicity, our guests were also able to enjoy some homemade, personalised cupcakes to celebrate Easter. They were so yummy and beautiful; we really are so grateful. With her leftovers, Felicity took the rest into work and managed to raise a further £100 for The Welbeloved Club. Happy days! Thank you also to everyone who donated an Easter egg for our raffle, we had lots to give away!
I really must also thank our stand-in driver Jen who not only drove the bus this month but also stayed for the duration to help us out. What a lifesaver!
Behind the scenes, I have been working hard on applying for small and big grants to secure our future. With the help of work colleagues, I have submitted a grant to hopefully purchase a new oven. The new oven will enable us to provide even more lunches and who knows, even open a second club.
I also submitted a big grant in the hope I can secure a small salary for myself to again, expand the club. As you can imagine, the club has become so big I am now spending most evenings and every weekend doing admin and general outstanding tasks. I want to keep communication at the highest standard, and I want to now start networking and building relationships with the local community and schools. All of this requires time, time that I do not have while working full-time!
One of our volunteers Paul supported me with this large grant, and what a phenomenal support it has been! Not only does Paul travel back from Leicester every month to help on the day, he also worked really hard on this application. He works full-time as a University lecturer, so to find time to help me has meant the world. We won’t know until October, but fingers crossed something comes of it.
Just on a side note, I was delighted to receive my official invite from Her Majesty The Queen to attend one of her garden parties on 21stMay. The invite came with all sorts of information, and it just feels so surreal. I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be invited to Buckingham Palace for my work setting up The Welbeloved Club. It really will be one of the most special moments in my life to date!
Our raffle money this month is to Rape Crisis England and Wales, who do fantastic work in supporting victims of rape and sexual abuse. See you on 12th May for our next lunch!