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Planning Retirement Online

Lunch clubs offer more than just food

November 2019

Rachel Riley with older lady at a lunch club
TV presenter Rachel Riley joins a local community at an RVS lunch club

You would think TV presenter and ex Countdown host Rachel Riley has enough on her hands as she awaits the birth of her first child due next month.

But instead of quietly sitting out the final weeks of pregnancy, instead she has starred in a new film to inspire more people to volunteer.

The film is part of a new campaign from Royal Voluntary Service and Yakult to highlight the difference volunteers make and the importance of the charity’s lunch and social clubs.

The film has been made after new research showed almost a million older people in the UK rely on ready meals and convenience foods to keep them fed and nearly a quarter skip one of their daily meals at least three times a week.

Interestingly loneliness is often identified as a root cause of poor eating habits among older people, highlighting why lunch clubs are so very important. Over one in five over 70s stated they ate all their daily meals alone each week, and this rises to over a quarter of people over 80.

It makes sense that eating alone can have a negative impact on people’s health and this new research shows that 41% of over 70s admit that they only sometimes follow a healthy diet. Additionally, one in twenty often forget to eat, and the equivalent of 390,000 older people rely on cold foods such as sandwiches to keep them going.

The film shows Rachel as she visits a Royal Voluntary Service lunch club in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, where she met volunteers and diners and helped make and serve up lunch. The idea of the film is to show first-hand how these clubs provide older people with a chance to eat a nutritious, hot meal in the company of others. For many, these clubs are the only opportunity the people have all week to eat a meal in company.

Rachel said: "Older people are often by themselves and it can be difficult to motivate yourself to make a nice hot meal. Loneliness is one of the worst things in terms of mental health and general wellbeing, so getting people together and having somewhere you can look forward to going to each week is fantastic. The volunteers themselves get a lot out of it too because they get to know the people who come in every week."

Rachel is quite right here; research has also shown that the volunteers gain a lot from helping at these clubs. At the moment the Royal Voluntary Service volunteers run nearly 80 Lunch Clubs, serving up over 50,000 delicious meals plus companionship. Along with volunteering, there is even opportunity to organise your own lunch clubs.

You can see Rachel in the film at:
If you might be interesting in learning more about volunteering at these clubs and other activities organised by the Royal Voluntary Service, then visit:

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