PEOPLE who do not work, are single or widowed and have no friends or family nearby can often be forgotten.
But, as featured in the fifth part of The County Times Helping Hand for Horsham Campaign, the work of the Horsham churches has helped bring these people together to have fun through tea dances and lunches.
It was a rainy Friday afternoon when I went to see how The Salvation Army helps people at its twice monthly Luncheon Club which started in January.
Starting at 12 noon, we were first offered a cup of tea or coffee before the three-course lunch, which on Friday was soup, a choice of curry or ploughman’s lunch for main course, and bread and butter pudding or ice cream for dessert.
Lunch was served at about 12.30pm and about 40 people gathered around dinner tables to enjoy time with each other.
Joan Collings said: “It’s just so wonderful. They are so kind and treat you so well. The food is excellent and there are activities afterwards. It’s just a lovely afternoon.
“I come to their keep-fit as well. You just can’t praise them enough.
“They only charge a minimum of £3. You can’t get a good meal like you do here for £3.”
She recommended the club to her friend Joan Floyd, who said: “This is only my third time. I’m a widow so I find it very helpful. It’s a very happy atmosphere.”
Their friend Valerie Rutherford added: “It means a lot. The fellowship is really good - everybody chats and you just feel Jesus is among us. They are very generous here.”
Susan Richardson said: “Valerie asked me if I would like to go with her for lunch at the Salvation Army. I am so glad I did - such friendly people welcomed us in and we had a delicious meal, main course and pudding, coffee and tea for just £3 followed by some fun entertainment and/or ‘goodies’ to buy. A most enjoyable afternoon.”
After lunch they enjoyed an afternoon of music, but on other occasions diners have played quizzes and learnt how to play the hand bells.
On Friday, volunteers asked diners to fill out a questionnaire to see if they would like to go on day trips in the summer and for ideas about where they would like to go, if it became possible.
Next month’s Salvation Army Luncheon Clubs will be held on Friday April 1 and Friday April 15.
Trafalgar Road Baptist Church has temporarily suspended its luncheon club while the church is rebuilt, but it hosts a monthly event called Cafe Connect which anyone is welcome to attend.
Every first Friday in the month, from 10am to 12 noon people meet in the lounge at George Pinion Court off Blunts Way.
The Rev Brian White said: “It is a chance to enjoy the company of others, a cup of tea or coffee and to purchase some home baked cakes and marmalade.”
The next one is on Friday April 15.
Kingdom Faith Church runs a similarly popular event to help elderly people socialise. Once a month they hold a tea dance at the church at Foundry Lane, Horsham.
From 2pm to 4pm about 70 to 80 people come to enjoy the traditional pastime as well as a cream tea for refreshments. It is free to take part and anyone is welcome to join them.
Community worker at the church David Hellyer said: “We have quite a few nursing homes bring people in a minibus, but we have others who come alone as well.”
The next tea dance is on Tuesday April 12. For more information call Kingdom Faith on 01293 851543.