Lottery cash on lunch clubs menu

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A Borders charity is setting up lunch clubs for elderly people throughout the Borders, thanks to a £20,344 boost from the Big Lottery Fund.

The Jedburgh-based Borders Voluntary Older People’s Services (BVOPS) will open its new Lauder lunch club later this month. And it will also use the cash to take over or create another four clubs where needed – likely one on the east coast and another towards Newcastleton, said BVOPS chairwoman Margaret Urquhart.

Mrs Urqhuart said: “We aim to address the isolation and loneliness of older people and to help anybody out who is suffering hardship. Lunch clubs have simply slipped off the map because of, for example, cutbacks in funding. They provide such a vital service within communities to get people out and socialising, and give people a hot nutritious meal, help them to keep their independence and remain in their own home for as long as possible.

“Lunch clubs are a preventative approach to reducing isolation, maintaining independence and increasing interaction. We want to improve older people’s health, improve their wellbeing and improve their social inclusion.

“By meeting older people weekly you can see if somebody has slight dementia or if somebody’s clothing is not as it should be and flag that up.”

BVOPS started in April after a group of volunteers felt there was a gap in services for the elderly, with no-one taking a longer term, region-wide view. Now more than 120 volunteers offer help and BVOPS’ Jedburgh Lunch Club has gone from having two regulars to between 25 and 30.

In May the not-for-profit voluntary association took over a lunch club in Galashiels, now growing and attended by 18 on Tuesday. BVOPS also started a social club in Earlston in May.

“It’s bringing people together for a longer day, and includes exercise, speakers, groups such as Action on Hearing (help with hearing aids) and Care and Repair (a DIY/handyman service). We are almost full to capacity,” said Mrs Urquhart.

And BVOPS hopes to set up a similar social club in Galashiels before Christmas.

The charity runs a twice-a-month tea dance in Peebles and is looking at setting one up in Denholm. It also plans to open a community cafe in Earlston.

Mrs Urquhart has a banking background and moved to the Borders 12 years ago. She said: “I’m passionate about services for the elderly. “We are all going to be there at some stage and, with the rural nature of the Borders, people get cut off so easily and are hard to reach.”

For more information contact BVOPS at or on 01835 862565.