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.
The Lunchoen Club: getting out for a hot meal, a game of bingo and a good chat
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.
In the first of a two-part look at what’s on offer at Clayton’s Sure Start Children’s Centre Len Grant heads for a popular play session with a difference.
Cornflakes spill out of a paddling pool; red paint is splattered with rollers and toothbrushes; pasta is shovelled out of a plastic tub with wooden spoons. It sounds like a parent’s worst nightmare but this is the weekly Wonderful World of Play at Clayton Sure Start Children’s Centre and the kids love it.
“For the children it’s all about getting messy, interacting with others and learning through play,” explains Amanda Shore, the Children’s Centre Teacher. “For the adults it’s an opportunity to meet other parents and get informal advice from half a dozen health-related agencies and for us it’s a chance to demonstrate how children can learn from play without expensive toys.”
Kayleigh Smith and her 19 month-old son, Cole have travelled this morning from Ancoats. “Yes, we have to get a bus to be here but it’s worth the effort because he enjoys being with other children and getting messy. He doesn’t get much chance of that at home.”
“I’ve put our pans in a low cupboard in our kitchen,” says Carla Stevens, mother of three year-old Roman. “It means he can just take them out whenever he wants and it keeps him busy whilst I’m cooking.”
Carla has been coming to the Wonderful World of Play since Roman was a baby and isn’t about to stop any time soon. With her five day-old daughter in her arms she has many more sessions ahead of her. “I was here last week, heavily pregnant,” she explains, “gave birth over the weekend and am back again now. I haven’t missed a week!”
"My daughter was born on Sunday and I'm back here today...
Whilst their children are covering themselves in paint and foam the parents and carers get informal advice from different agencies who join in each week.
“We have health workers, speech and language therapists, dental nurses – a string of specialists who might not be consulted formally but who become part of the play session and ‘filter’ information in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere,” says Amanda.
When the dental nurse pays a visit there are toothbrushes in the paint pots and minty-smelly ‘goo’ to play with. When the fire service comes, not only do the children get to try on the helmets but the parents learn they can get their fire alarms tested for free.
“For an a hour and a half the adults get to ask questions of the specialist but also chat to each other,” continues Amanda. “This social interaction is crucial for many new mums.”
“Before having Liam I’d always worked full-time,” says Clayton resident, Claire Tomkison, “so it was a real shock to finish work and start maternity leave. I felt quite lonely and isolated and the weeks seem to drag on forever. I came down here to see what was going on and just started getting to know people. Once Liam arrived I signed up for every course going. I don’t know what I’d have done without the Children’s Centre.
“Some baby and toddler sessions are quite structured but here you get to talk to other mums and I always find it interesting to see what Liam gets up to when he’s playing with the friends he’s made. It just shows that you don’t need expensive toys… our children will learn from anything.”
The Wonderful World of Play is on Fridays between 10 and 11.30. Phone 219 6177 or call in for more information.
Clayton Sure Start Children’s Centre, North Road, Clayton.
Revisit East in the next week for more about the Children’s Centre.