Our launch has been fast approaching, with much more preparation needed than I care to admit. However, I’m pleased to say it was a complete success!
Our day kicked off around 10.30am, with volunteers both in the hall and the kitchen working tirelessly to make it ready for 12pm. This included laying tables with various condiments and cutlery once volunteer Tallulah had so beautifully laid the tablecloths, peeling and chopping veg, filling milk and water jugs, sorting raffle prizes and leaving to collect those coming via our transport.
We were so fortunate to have Ocado award us £100 in vouchers as a gesture of goodwill, thanks to volunteer Clare. We are truly so grateful. Just so you know how far it went, this paid for the potatoes, vegetables, milk, Yorkshire puddings, apples, biscuits, tea and coffee. When you are a not for profit organisation this generosity goes such a long way.
Come 12pm, it was all systems go. We welcomed 48 diners who would have otherwise spent their Sunday at home on their own. They were met with smiling faces and a warm welcome – something so important when attending something new.
Guests enjoyed a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, followed by apple crumble and custard. The meal was followed by tea and coffee with biscuits and a raffle. Everyone loves a raffle!
As I’m sure everyone can imagine, the ‘clean up’ is always the worst part. It’s something you know is coming but put off thinking about due to the anxiety it brings. Are we going to lose anything? We had four filled boxes, what if something goes missing? What if something gets mixed up with something else? What if the volunteers need to leave, as they have already been so generous with their Sunday? I’m happy to report I had NOTHING to worry about.
Let me just say our volunteers were absolutely incredible. I understand I should take the praise for organising and having the idea in the first place, but I do not lie when I say this is a team effort. I could not have pulled the afternoon off without them. What’s more, not once did I have to chase something or ask for something to be done. They were in fact always a step ahead of me! Furthermore, they stayed to help clear and wash up, despite not having a break themselves. Everything worked perfectly, just through a shared passion and drive to achieve the same goal. We all wanted our guests to have the best afternoon, and not have to worry about a thing. We wanted them to socialise and make friends, and not have to worry about the time or having to cook for themselves. We wanted them to forget about feeling lonely. We also wanted them to leave with very happy tummies!
I know Mum will say the same thing about it being a team effort and it’s true, she couldn’t have cooked for 48 on her own. However, this is her menu and her passion for good food, especially for people in later life. Her love of homemade food made the meal taste all the better, and it wasn’t long before the compliments came flooding in as always. Her management of the kitchen meant everyone knew what he or she were doing, and it meant we were ready to serve on time. Thank you Mum for sharing this with me.
The feedback from our lovely guests was all positive. Many confirmed it would have been a day they ordinarily would spend at home alone, and some said they probably would have only had a sandwich as ‘nobody wants to cook a roast for one’. Some said they had spoken to people they had never met before, and it had really ‘brightened their Sunday’. I think everyone felt very overwhelmed with the amount of people willing to give up their Sunday in order to help them have a good afternoon.
Ultimately, this day was all about the guests. We are facing a loneliness crisis and not enough important people are listening. I’m one person with a fantastic team behind me, but we can’t fix it all. We only have 48 seats to offer once a month and with it becoming very popular already, I fear I am fast becoming a victim of my own success. All I can promise is we will endeavour to give everyone a chance to attend, and will rotate members round if everyone falls into our priority. I ask for your patience and understanding during this time!
Thank you so much once again to our team of 17, you are all heroes and I owe you so much. Thank you for sharing this passion with me. Roll on Sunday 4th March!