There might be a number of reasons that people eat alone. It could be that they can’t physically get out of their homes, or that they don’t have anyone to go out for a meal with. More than a Mealtime’s Shared Tables project, a scheme set up by Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours’ Scheme, brings people together so they can solve both problems. Emily Axel, of the Time To Shine project reports on this lovely scheme.
So how does it work?
For those who might fancy a night out and are able to travel independently, the project brings people together for a self-funded meal at a local restaurant in Cross Gates or in people’s homes. It’s a chance to meet and chat with people they normally wouldn’t and hopefully foster new friendships. A volunteer host meets and greets and helps get the conversation going.
Emily said “but why not let John tell you how Shared Tables helped him?”
John: “Shared Tables appealed to me because I’m not too keen on larger groups like coffee mornings. I was looking to meet some new people and get a sense of belonging that you can’t get from a television.
Thanks to Shared Tables I’ve been able to make deeper connections with people in my community, people who previously I only knew by name or in passing. It’s nice to see and recognise people when I’m out. I encourage anyone who might be feeling lonely to come along to one of the meals and join in the fun. ”
Friends he’d made through Shared Table came to visit him when he broke his arm and were able to recommend a source of home help.
Emily added: “Shared Tables has been a springboard for John to get involved with other activities at Cross Gates Good Neighbours, such as the art class and walking group.”
Emily continued: “The meals have proved popular enough to hold them at least weekly, many participants have signed up to be hosts themselves and some arrange their own additional meals. It’s a great example of a community making the most of its strengths–both in terms of people power and local businesses.
The project also has a befriending scheme, where local volunteers go to people’s homes to share a meal with them. So far, they have successfully recruited dedicated volunteers who get as much out of the project as the people they go to visit. One is even a trained chef! “
Eileen, one of the project’s participants said, “It has brought more laughter into my life. I believe laughter is better than any medicine.”
Anyone wishing to participate can register free with the Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours’ Scheme.