Temporary closure of lunch clubs

Since the temporary closure of the city’s many Lunch Clubs in March 2020, volunteers have found creative ways to keep in touch with their lunch club members, provide practical support and help maintain the social connections that are so important to us all. We know this has been really well received but we also know your volunteers and members are keen to get back to some sort of normality.

Sadly, the overarching advice from 14 September is to not meet in groups of more than six, which makes social gatherings like lunch clubs difficult to imagine. The communication around this is on the Governement’s website on 9 September with an FAQ page available for more detail.

While we do not recommend restarting lunch clubs for older people, many of you have been asking for advice so you can begin to plan. We urge all groups to use trusted sources of information, the most relevant being:

It is important that all clubs involve their venue management, lunch club members and volunteers in any planning to agree how to implement general safety measures and any guidance specific to activities that may take place in running a lunch club or social activity. We appreciate it is hard to keep up to speed with the ever changing updates relating to Covid, the following are some of the most relevant links but this is not an exhaustive list and lunch clubs should ensure they are following the most up to date documents by not printing out and/or saving updates: national guidance often changes and can go out of date quickly.

In considering this information, it might be that clubs decide not to restart or may adapt their activity to run on a reduced basis.  In order to be able to keep to this guidance, some lunch club members and volunteers may feel uncomfortable returning to a lunch club setting and this balancing of risk will be something that different settings will need to take into account depending on their individual circumstances and in response to any further changes to Covid guidance and additional local measures.

Joining a lunch club

Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) run a city wide service to help match people up with local lunch clubs. The current situation means that until there is clear advice on how indoor social gatherings can operate safely, lunch clubs will remain closed.

VAS are therefore unable to process any requests to join clubs at the moment. VAS will review their position regularly and will resume making referrals when official advice indicates that it is safe to do so.

Other activities, organisations, information and services

Sheffield Directory has useful links to voluntary and community sector support during this time, including information on befriending services, help with shopping and practical support.

You can also sign up to news alerts from us about wider council activity and advice for people living in Sheffield. 

Lunch club funding

Between April 2018 and March 2019, we awarded grants to 51 lunch clubs across the city from the Lunch Club Grant Fund. This was the second year of existing funding agreements. The clubs provided 49,409 meals over 2260, with many clubs also arranging quizzes, crafts, gentle exercise, talks and reminiscence activities.

The grants varied in size but contributed to three main areas of expenditure:

  • rent
  • member transport
  • some general running costs such as volunteer expenses and sundries

Other costs were covered by member contributions for meals and transport.

By April 2020 and the new financial year, Sheffield was responding to the emerging impact of Covid-19. Despite the temporary closure of all lunch clubs, many volunteers carried on volunteering by phoning and maintaining contact with their membership or joining their local community responses.

In addition to small grants for lunch clubs, part of the Lunch Club Grant Pot is set aside for a development support grant. In the financial year 2019 to 2020 Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) delivered this service, which offered support to any club in the city on a range of things from budgeting, volunteer recruitment, adult safeguarding, food hygiene, health and safety, and organisational development.

In normal circumstances, April would have been the time to reflect and report on the past year while preparing for the year ahead. With many voluntary sector organisations responding to emerging priorities during the pandemic, VAS were at the centre, coordinating and mapping emerging mutual aid groups across the city while also playing a key role in food bank sustainability and supporting the voluntary sector to adapt. 

In addition to small grants for lunch clubs, part of the Lunch Club Grant Pot is set aside for a development support grant. In 2018 to 2019 Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) delivered this service, which offered support to any club in the city on a range of things from budgeting, volunteer recruitment, adult safeguarding, food hygiene, health and safety, and organisational development.

Over the year, VAS supported 52 lunch clubs across 27 wards and helped two clubs re open, creating 130 places. You can download their full annual report.

Contact Voluntary Sector Liaison Team