Polaris volunteers have for the second time teamed up with charity partner, Blackfriars Settlement to hold a kitchen takeover for their lunch club.
The team were not only busy in the kitchen, they also organised the afternoon entertainment for their 60+ positive ageing group (held every Thursday). Alongside this club, the volunteers also run another class every Friday for those who are 60+ living with visual impairment.
Both groups were set up to help bring out the hidden talents of each individual and enhance their golden years.
On 6th February the energetic team of seven planned, prepped, cooked and served four main dishes and desserts for over 40 guests.
During the prep and cooking of the meal, the guests took part in classes provided by the centre, which included yoga and drama.
At midday the Polaris team served up the dishes of cottage pie, sausage and mash, salmon fillets and veggie chilli. After serving the meals, the team joined the guests and socialised with them over the meal. The lunch was followed by classic desserts including chocolate cake, sticky toffee pudding and jam roly poly, which went down a treat.
The clubs provide a great local and safe place for members of the community to interact with others. Many of whom have been coming to the centre for a long time, and for some, it is one of the only chances in the week they get to socialise with others. To help combat loneliness in the community, the centre also run a very successful befriending service, where volunteers phone and visit older isolated people in the SE1 postcode.
After the meal the team next set out the afternoon activity of bingo led by Jackie Childs Senior Business Analyst. Winners received chocolates, boxes of biscuits and M&S gift cards.
“I found the day very enjoyable, although I have never peeled that many potatoes in my life. We got a lot of compliments from the residents, and I learned which members of staff I need to visit if I want delicious home-made cottage pie!!
“The bingo session was such fun and the prizes were really well received. It was great to feel we were doing something as a team that was also giving back to the local community.
“The charity do a huge amount for the locals, education and leisure wise, and anything we can do to help a charity that so clearly wants to help others has to be worthwhile.”
The event was guided by Sieglinde Cosia a long standing Positive Ageing team member. Sieglinde comments
“We are so grateful to the Polaris volunteers for organising the kitchen take-over during our Thursday Lunch club. This day was a mini-fundraiser for Positive Ageing, as our members donate £5 each for lunch. The funds help us to provide a varied programme for our members. It pays for exercise sessions, musical afternoons etc. We all had a wonderful day and there was an amazing buzz in our club.”
Rosa (87) Club Member comments on her experience of the day
"I had a wonderful day, I enjoyed everything, the home-cooked meal, the bingo session and the chat I had with the volunteers. Simone is lovely, I am visually impaired and she supported me during the bingo session. I won a box of chocolates! Everyone went home at the end of the day with a smile in their hearts and a spring in their steps. Thank you so much for brightening up our day!”
During the Christmas period, Polaris staff held activities to raise funds for new kitchen equipment to donate to the charity. Through a bake sale and office raffle the team raised £455, which was used to buy knives, chopping boards and oven dishes.
Why blackfriars settlement stole our hearts
The centre, originally set up as a Women’s University Settlement in 1887 to support poor women and children in the area, by providing them with opportunities in education and recreation, has been serving the community for over 130 years.
Today, the community centre plays an even bigger role by helping more people who live in the Lambeth and Southwark area. Their services have expanded from focusing on women and children to helping anyone in the community get support, learn new skills and socialise within a friendly and modern environment. The centre provides many services including:
- Positive ageing
- Mental health and wellbeing
- Legal advice clinic
- Learning services, including an abundance of courses and workshops
- Graphic design studio
Although the centre does receive some funding, groups like the positive ageing group receive very little help, so it’s volunteering days like ours which are key to support the continuation of their support groups.
The volunteers and staff’s high level of support and true dedication and commitment in supporting people from all walks of life really captured our attention. With the centre also being located close to our office, it made sense for us to support Blackfriars Settlement in our search for a local and impactful charity.
What’s planned next?
We'll be holding fundraising events throughout the year to raise funds for the centre, and plan to return for our third kitchen takeover event this summer.