Older people in Lincolnshire will be able to find a helping hand and listening ear thanks to new support for social inclusion charities and local lunch clubs.

Together with members, Lincolnshire Co-op is raising money for social inclusion organisations and groups through its Community Champions scheme. A donation will be made each time a member shops in a Lincolnshire Co-op outlet from December to March. Colleague fundraising and the carrier bag levy will also go into the pot.

The money will help social inclusion charities and luncheon clubs around Lincolnshire continue to brighten older people’s lives.

Lincolnshire Co-op Community Engagement Manager Sam Turner said: “This is all about supporting older people in their communities and enabling them to enjoy daily life. Finding transport to hospital appointments or shopping trips and even some household tasks can be tricky on your own, and it’s easy to feel isolated. Lots of people simply want the chance to have a chat and a laugh with someone.

“That’s why social inclusion charities and local lunch groups like these are so important. They really do bring light into people’s lives by providing friendship, activities, transport and other help. The money we raise together will make a real difference to their work.

Support will go to social inclusion charity Community Lincs, which helps communities set up their own Good Neighbour Schemes. Clients can request help for different things, from a trip to the shops to moral support during health appointments, and people living nearby volunteer a few hours to help. 

In North East Lincolnshire, Friendship at Home in Cleethorpes runs one-to-one befriending, craft sessions and even exercise classes to boost people’s confidence. Newark Live at Home and North Lincolnshire Age UK also provide vital lifelines for many people and are being supported with the fundraising.

Luncheon clubs across Lincolnshire Co-op’s trading area will similarly benefit from the support. Local food store colleagues are also providing festive treats and lending a hand at a number of Christmas lunches during December in Louth, Sleaford, Long Sutton, Newark, Grimsby, Horncastle and Lincoln. 

Madge Atkinson runs Great Hale Luncheon Club in Great Hale, near Sleaford, which provides tasty food and a place for local older people to socialise on Mondays. Every year she and a trusty team of volunteers hold a three-course Christmas lunch, complete with a raffle and festive live music. Colleagues from Lincolnshire Co-op’s Heckington Food Store and Head Office in Lincoln supported this year’s event by providing mince pies and helping serve the food.

 “A lot of people are on their own and if they come to something like this, they can meet people and have a chat to them, and hopefully they’ll come again and make it a regular, weekly occurrence,” Madge said.

Maureen Harding, from Heckington, joined the luncheon club around five years ago in need of some companionship.

“Everyone is so friendly, and the helpers are brilliant. When you’re on your own, it’s nice to get out and come and meet people. Coming here is a real pleasure,” she said.

Gifts collected through a Santa’s Suitcase appeal by travel colleagues will also be given out to help people smile this Christmas, as part of the Community Champions support.

To find out more information about the Community Champions scheme, visit www.lincolnshire.coop/community.

For more information contact: Hannah Gilbey, Media and Communications Co-ordinator (01522) 785281 or 07970 893327