Loneliness is a huge problem in the city for many people.
Reduced social networks due to bereavement, restricted mobility, health conditions such as dementia, and sensory impairments create barriers to connecting with people.
Some of our guests only have brief encounters with carers all week so our lunch clubs provide a vital social lifeline that helps people feel connected to their community and improves mental wellbeing.
In 2011, the popular older people's lunch club at the YMCA on Marmion Road in Hove was faced with imminent closure due to funding cuts. Experienced community cookery worker Caroline Henderson stepped in and with the support of the lunch club guests established Hove Luncheon Club. This user-led club not only survived but thrived over the years, becoming a cornerstone of the community.
By 2014, the building was about to be demolished to make way for flats, so Caroline took the opportunity to relocate the club to Hove Methodist Church. This strategic move marked a turning point for the club, and it was able to expand to host two lunch clubs and a supper club and broadened its reach to include adults with learning disabilities in addition to older people.
The visionary management committee and dedicated volunteer team with enthusiastic support from Hove Methodist Church led to a transformation that saw the club evolve into a registered charity known as Food and Friendship in 2018.
Caroline Henderson's achievements in founding and nurturing Food and Friendship have helped to create a charity that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of older individuals and adults with learning disabilities through communal dining and companionship.
“Too many older people live and eat alone in the city, having lost friends and loved ones. Our lunch clubs are like a large family for people who don't have one where they can enjoy a healthy home-cooked meal and come together to share friendship and laughter. They are a place to feel welcomed and valued, to learn something, to receive support and to help build the resilience to get through another week alone”
“Thank you for making my mother feel like she is loved and part of the family at lunch club” Adam Ransom.