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THE Melksham Lunch Club, which was axed last month by Wiltshire Council, will relaunch next week as ‘Melksham Community Meals’ after a successful campaign by volunteers.
The campaign, led by local woman and nominee for Melksham Person of the Year, Sue Mortimer, has been able to move forward after receiving the backing of Melksham Town Council.
Last week at the full town council meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to let the team use the Assembly Hall for six months, waiving the rent for the first three months and offering a reduced rent for the remaining three months. During the six months, the council will support Sue and her team to promote the service and explore long-term options for where the service could be located in the town.
‘Melksham Community Meals’ will relaunch next Friday, 8th February. As well as reaching out to older people who may be struggling with isolation, the service will be open to everyone in the community, offering a place for people to meet and socialise.
Speaking to Melksham News, Sue said, “I’m over the moon! I just feel like Melksham Town Council has come up trumps for the people of Melksham. Everybody has been congratulating me, the volunteers and the trustees – everybody is just over the moon. It’s good for the people of Melksham – they know that they matter. The whole town is behind us. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’ve spoken to the people that used the service previously and they are so happy that it is returning.”
Sue began her campaign to save the long-standing service, which was based at the Assembly Hall, as soon as the news broke that Wiltshire Council was closing it because it was not financially viable and was running at a loss of £82,000 a year.
Sue said, “People said I had a mountain to climb when I started this campaign because the service was making a loss, but I just said that I would have to get on and do it!”
As well as the support of Melksham Town Council, Sue’s campaign has received backing from other local organisations and businesses.
“We have the support of Lidl and their ‘Give it back’ scheme; a wellbeing grant from the Melksham Area Board; and Asda has said that they will be putting us forward in their green token scheme to win funding. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have also been very supportive.”
At the full town council meeting, Sue and the team were praised by the councillors for their efforts. Cllr Hayley Spencer-Illman said, “It is absolutely commendable that you have seen something that Wiltshire Council is closing or devolving and have taken it upon yourself, rather than the expectation of somebody else to fix it. That is something that should be commended in our community. Hopefully this will prove to Wiltshire Council that the service can be successful and will make them regret closing it. Let’s show them it can be done and by people who care!”
‘Melksham Community Meals’ launches on Friday 8th February at the Assembly Hall from 12pm until 2pm. The service will run weekly on Fridays 12pm-2pm; and on Sundays 12pm-2.30pm. To book, contact the Assembly Hall on 01225 709887.