Volunteers urgently needed to save one of Sheffield's oldest lunch clubs

One of Sheffield's longest-running lunch clubs could close within weeks unless new volunteers step forward to preserve the 'lifeline' for older people.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 1:54 pm
Updated Friday, 18th May 2018, 1:56 pm
The lunch club has been running for nearly 40 years

Birley Spa Lunch Club provides hot meals for up to 50 people each Monday and Wednesday at Hackenthorpe Community Centre, where they also enjoy bingo and a raffle, and it organises regular day trips.

But volunteer Marcia Bramhall, who has devoted countless hours over the last five years to keep it running, is stepping down at the end of May - and, the search for replacements has so far proved fruitless.

Volunteer Marcia Bramhall is presented with a bouquet by members of South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company

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The lunch club, which receives grant funding from Sheffield Council, has been running since 1979 and is believed to be one of the city's oldest.

Sue Smith, who runs the community centre on Four Wells Drive, said: "For a lot of people it's a lifeline where they can get a good meal and meet friends.

"It's a joy to be there and see everyone chatting and enjoying themselves. It's vital we keep it open but without volunteers we can't do that."

Offenders provided by South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company help prepare the meals and clean up each week - repaying their debt to society and gaining useful skills and qualifications in the process.

The last day will be Wednesday, May 30 unless a new volunteer can be found

Marcia said: "I've enjoyed doing it but I'm 75, my health's not as good as it could be and it's become too much.

"It's something people really look forward to and without it some of the members, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s, would struggle to get out and socialise."

Marcia's last day is on Wednesday, May 30, and the club will have to close - at least temporarily - if a new volunteer cannot be found by then.

Ideally, a group of helpers is wanted as Marcia said she dedicates about 24 hours each week to the role, which is a big commitment for one person.

Up to 50 people a day attend the lunch club

Adele Hunt, the council's voluntary sector liaison officer, has offered to provide potential volunteers with support and advice on running a club, and she is keen to hear from people with new ideas.

"We would love new volunteers to come forward with some exciting ideas," she said.

"There is no restriction on which day of the week the club should run or what other activities they could provide to members. Everything is an option if somebody has the idea and commitment to make it happen."

Hackenthorpe Community Centre hosts numerous activities besides the lunch club, including yoga, belly-dancing classes and exercise sessions for disabled people. It is also available to hire for birthday parties and other events.

Volunteer Marcia Bramhall with members of the lunch club

* Anyone interested in volunteering at the lunch club, or setting up a new club, can call Adele on 0114 273 4631.