Beighton Lifestyle Centre has been a member of FareShare Yorkshire for little over a year, initially joining in the height of the pandemic to provide for their no-questions-asked foodbank. Since then, they have received 26.8 tonnes of food from FareShare, which is now split between their foodbank, community café and Luncheon Club, all together reaching 250 different people a week.
Beighton Lifestyle Centre is at the heart of Beighton Village, hosting 28 different clubs and activity sessions throughout the week, attracting 850 different users. This is in addition to the community café, open six days a week.
Steve, Trust Manager, says;
“Our Cafe is a meeting place where friends gather for a chat and a great, freshly cooked meal at a reasonable price. We don’t like to test anyone’s pocket.
The support we get from FareShare helps us to prepare freshly cooked, nutritious food at a low cost to our community.”
Tackling social isolation is at the core of all the centre’s activities, Steve adds;
“I knew there was social isolation in the elderly, but we didn’t realise this was a problem in young mums too. They drop their kids off at playgroup or dance, but it’s great for them too. A lot of them are new to the area and once they are on maternity leave or aren’t working, they realise they don’t know anyone in the village, the café has been a great way for them to meet and make friends.”
Three Fridays a month, the Centre hosts a luncheon club for the elderly, the last Friday of the month being a tea dance, particularly for those living with Dementia. Three long-time regulars of the lunch club are Jack, 89, Patricia, 87, and their neighbour Hazel, 86. When the Luncheon Club resumed after lockdown, Patricia knew her friend Lilian, 86, hadn’t been out of the house much and told her to come along too,“Pat rang and told me to get off my sofa and come for lunch, and I’ve been every week since! It was very hard for the mental health when you’re all locked down.”
Beighton Lifestyle Centre have recently started accessing FareShare Yorkshire’s new frozen provision. With the UK logistics industry having a difficult time, accessing frozen means Angie the chef knows she always has potatoes and vegetables available for the Friday lunches and often a stable meat supply. The potatoes were used in Hazel’s favourite Friday meal, meat and potato pie, while chicken breasts from the provision have been used to make chicken wrapped in bacon, Patricia’s favourite.
“We really make the most of the frozen provision, we use around 25% to help provide the food for our Luncheon Club, around 50% as ingredients in our community café and around 25% we distribute through our Foodbank activities.”
Together the four of them sit down to enjoy beef roast dinner, with beef, green beans and potatoes from FareShare. Not forgetting pudding, Angie uses the frozen berries received from FareShare to make a delicious Eton mess, and intends to use them for pies, come the winter.
Alongside the two-course dinner, there is a quiz, bingo and a raffle – a full day out! Patricia and Jack used to get away most summer weekends in the campervan; but having recently had to say goodbye to their campervan and car, the Lunch Club is their main outing of the week. Jack said, “We really enjoy coming on a Friday, great to meet people and have a well-cooked meal.”
Hazel, who was asked to shield recalls:
“Pat and Jack would come to my window and say ‘Hello’, but it wasn’t the same as coming here [the Lunch Club]. But then it was so long I got scared of going back outside, but the centre feels safe. And food is always nicer when you don’t have to cook it yourself!”
Lilian adds, “I do a lot with the family but it’s a nice way to get out of the family pod, have different conversations and opinions and get that independence. It’s just good to get out and about without them sometimes!”
In addition to the nutritional and social benefits of the Lunch Club, Project Manager Julie, added that through accessing FareShare, they have been able to save some money and put it aside to take lunch club members to the theatre or seaside.
“We come for food and we get amazing service, games and entertainment, a reason to leave the house and most importantly company and great conversation.”