Last week East reported on the messy antics at the Wonderful World of Play at Clayton’s Sure Start Children’s Centre. This week the Over 50s Luncheon Club comes under the spotlight.
Over 50s at the Children’s Centre? Surely there’s been a mistake. Not so, explains the Head of Centre, Karen Camm. “Yes, we’re focussed on increasing children’s attainment and getting parents trained and back into work so we’re essentially a hub of services for children and families. And, as such, we’re an intergenerational resource: everyone uses the library, the café, it all mingles together.”
Karen sees the benefit of getting not just mums and tots, but the whole family using the centre. “It has a ripple effect,” she says, “grandparents coming for one event might pick up information about another and pass it on. The Luncheon Club is very much an add-on for our overall ‘think family’ strategy”.
Led by the voluntary group 4CT, the Tuesday Luncheon Club has been going for longer than any of its current members can remember. Clayton resident Sandra Webb has been a volunteer since 1994: “It used to be run by Clayton Community Association [a forerunner to 4CT],” she recalls, “who had their base in an old community centre in Clayton Park and before that in an old butchers shop on Ashton Old Road.”
Today the eight or so regular members are finishing off their steak pie dinner before having a few games of bingo with Sandra calling out the numbers. “Oh yes, they pay for their own dinner and make a small contribution towards the bingo prizes and any trips out we can afford,” she says.
When there’s enough in the ‘kitty’ the group will hire a ‘charabanc’ and enjoy a day trip to the coast. Last time it was a meal out at a Blackpool hotel followed by entertainment and no doubt a sing-along on the way home. “We just go out and have a good time, don’t we?” says Sandra to the bingo players.
A hot meal, a few games of bingo and a good chat. For many of the Luncheon Club this is a social lifeline. “If they didn’t come here,” says Sandra, “they wouldn’t go anywhere.”
The Luncheon Club meets on Tuesdays from 11-2.30. New members are always welcome. Drop in or call 219 6177 for more details.