“Like Xmas in July!” – a first trip out for senior lunch club members

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Communities of interest

A group of 23 senior Reading people, who had been regulars at The Globe Lunch Club before the pandemic, enjoyed a picnic, songs and poems at Caversham Court Gardens recently thanks to a collaboration between The Globe Lunch Club, Readibus and Reading Association for the Blind (RAB).

Constance Gooding and a team of six Globe Lunch Club volunteers collected lunch club members with the help of Readibus and the RAB minibus, for what Constance hopes will be the first of a number of summer outings for people who have been self-isolating and needed a bit of extra help to get out and enjoy their summer.

“Everything about the picnic was most enjoyable. The journeys went smoothly and everyone was happy” reported Constance. “Attendees were nervous, excited and well dressed for the occasion. It seemed like Xmas had arrived! Everyone found it easy to socially distance and our food was bought in and delivered on time by local caterers. We even had a bit of light music via mobile phone.”

Nisa Unis from Reading Borough Council was on hand and spoke about Covid- 19 and community resources, answering people’s questions. Then lunch club members and volunteers read poems and sang songs in the shadows of the trees and plants of the colourful public gardens at Caversham Court, including the poems “How much I love you” and “Beautiful Island in the sun” followed by two solos by a male vocalist.

Some people need additional support and encouragement, and Constance has a few tips for other community groups thinking of running trips:
  • Speak with guests the evening before or visit them, if possible.
  • Call early on the day, send a volunteer around to be with them 15 minutes before the vehicle arrives.
  • Have volunteers to see them out of their home and onto the minibus.

The volunteers worked hard to make the event so enjoyable for the guests – collecting chairs and tables; cleaning and sanitising everything; putting up the gazebo; meeting, greeting and settling guests; constantly observing those who had been in hospital recently or with long term conditions and memory problems. One of the volunteers commented, “It was hard work but worth it to see them all dressed up to the ninth, and laughing, all so happy to see each other again. Wow!”

Feedback on the day from guests included:
“Thanks for arranging this for us, bringing us out. I was worried about coming out, up to yesterday. Was feeling so down. Glad I am here.”
“Nice place, nice food. Seeing my friends again.”
“Thanks for allowing me to come on this trip with you. Couldn’t do it without the transport. This place is quite nice, peaceful, secluded. Didn’t know there was a garden here.”

Constance said, “ We’re very grateful to Peter from Readibus, Adele and Richard from RAB for their kindness and generosity in making this first event very successful. We’re now looking forward to the next Event in the middle of August!”

For more information and guidance about arranging a trip for your members, please contact Rhiannon at Ready Friends ready.friends@rva.org.uk