The old folk’s lunch club which formerly met at Freefield but re-located to Islesburgh is now being run by older people’s charity the Royal Voluntary Service.
The charity, once known as WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service) took over the permanent running of the club on Monday, in partnership with Islesburgh staff. It was previously run by the council.
Lunch club regulars are mostly happy with the arrangement and have been pleased with their lunches, which has helped make the move from Freefield as smooth as possible. They reluctantly shifted out of their venue, which they had had for their own use for more than 30 years, and are still getting used to being in a community centre.
Doreen Williamson said: “It’s going fine, the transition has gone ok.” Marion Smith said: “It’s very nice, there’s nothing to grumble about.”
Another diner enjoying the food was Richard Johnson who said simply: “It’s fine.”
Babs Tulloch said: “You just have to move on,” and Eileen Petrie said: “It’s really going well and I’m glad we’re still together.”
She voiced what had been the main fear of the Freefield regulars – that the move to Islesburgh would bring about the slow demise of the club.
But numbers are keeping up, said lunch club stalwart Ivy Cluness – there are between 22 and 25 every day (although the club no longer has a lunch on Saturdays).
Mrs Cluness said: “Everyone [at Islesburgh] has been very accommodating and they’re doing the best they can, it’s just no Freefield.”
But, she admitted: “It’s worked out better than I thought, it’s better to have somewhere to go.”
RVS locality manager Anouska Civico said she hoped the club would grow and develop new services.
“We are really pleased to have taken over the lunch club at Islesburgh, which provides a vital service to local older people. As well as a delicious hot meal, the company and chat that people get when they visit the club is really important.
“We want to develop the service further and are looking forward to welcoming more volunteers and visitors.”
The lunch club is open to new people – it currently has up to 30 regulars but that is set to grow as the service expands.
A hot meal is just one part of the lunch club experience, and RVS hopes to develop the club to include entertainment and an opportunity to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee. It is now undertaking a four-week consultation with the people who use the service to ensure that the club provides the experience they would like.
Mrs Cluness welcomed that – she said holding activities after the lunches, plus possibly a weekly social club, would “build camaraderie”.
* See this week’s Shetland Times for more.