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Come dine with us for free! New Melksham charity offers free meals and a chance for a chat

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A NEW Melksham charity is launching this week, offering a free meal and a chance to socialise for anyone in the community.

‘Melksham Community Dining’ aims to offer emotional support to the town, bringing people together in a post-lockdown world, reaching out to all ages in the community, and anyone that might feel nervous about socialising again.

As well as a free two-course lunch, the charity will also offer a variety of free social activities. The new charity is the idea of town councillor Louisa Lewis, who has formed the non-profit organisation with fellow trustees David McKnight, a local government consultancy general manager, and Dee Macleod, a retired marketing director.

“Being aware of the restraints and the devastating effects Covid -19 has had on all of us, we have set up this charity specifically to bring people together in a safe environment,” explains Louisa. “We hope to reach out to the young and to the old, those wanting to socialise again and those feeling nervous about taking that first step forward.

“The key to moving forward, is to be together, socialising and enjoying each other’s company. This is where the free lunch is so much part of this project. We want everyone to come and enjoy their time without having to think about the cost.”

From this week, the new charity will be based at the Bowerhill Village Hall every Wednesday lunchtime, offering free lunches from 1pm to 3pm. Melksham Community Dining offers everyone a two-course lunch, free of charge, with the option to stay after the meal and join in the social activities. These will include music, bingo, quizzes, stretch and balance, playing cards and much more.

“This is lunchtime dining with a difference,” continues Louisa, “We are providing not only lunches, but an opportunity to socialise. We understand that some people will stay just for the lunch and others will try strumming the ukulele or joining in with bingo. It is a totally informal relaxed and safe environment.”

Melksham Community Dining trustee, David McKnight – who until recently was the economic development manager at Melksham Town Council – adds, “Our first-hand experience during Covid-19 has reinforced the importance of social support in the Melksham area. Research shows that people who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and benefit from a wider social network capable of providing social and emotional support.

“This is what this new venture is all about, hence the name: Melksham Community Dining.” Melksham Community Dining trustee, Dee Macleod, will be heading up the Wednesday social activities. A firm believer in “a giggle a day keeps the doctor away”, Dee promises there will be an abundance of fun.

And one of the activities on offer will be free ukulele lessons, provided by Colin Hollingshead, who has volunteered to help the charity. “Offering activities with a complimentary lunch is a fantastic idea,” said Colin. “It opens the door to everyone and will bring people together. I have recently moved to Melksham and I am very keen to help in this worthwhile project.

As part of the activities, I shall be offering free ukulele lessons after lunch. When booking for lunch, the residents will be able to book in a lesson at the same time.”

Many local businesses have also offered their support to the charity, including Trevor Borck of Paragon Windows. He said, “I voted for Louisa in the recent elections because of her obvious commitment to the people of Melksham. Anything we can do to bring people together has to be a winner and I am happy to support this innovative project. Starting up a free lunch club is a great idea.”

The new charity is also appealing for volunteers to join their team and help out on Wednesdays. Louisa says, “This project opens the door to so many different aspects of volunteering – apart from the cooking and the washing up! Meet and greet, table hosting, organising, cutting cake or just being there to encourage and support others with a smile. If you would like to volunteer on a Wednesday lunchtime, either monthly or weekly, please contact me on the phone number below – come join our merry group – and if you know of anyone that you feel would benefit from our free lunches, please point them in my direction.

“I would like to thank so many people for their support and encouragement of this project, especially Mark Harris, Chris Broom and all the Bowerhill Village Hall Committee. I am sure that together, the town and parish will continue to develop and strengthen our already existing sense of community.

“To all the Melksham businesses, I look forward to your continued support. We could not do it without you. Your generosity has been amazing and with your continued support, we are hoping that over time we will be able to increase the number of days that we offer free lunches. I am also looking forward to working with the volunteers at the Melksham Food Bank. They are doing an amazing job and I am sure that we will be able to help each other in many ways.

“I will be at the lunch every Wednesday, both as a friend and as a councillor. I am hoping people will feel able to share their problems or their concerns so that I can help in any way I can. Come dine with us!”

Melksham Community Dining is held every Wednesday at Bowerhill Village Hall, 1pm to 3pm. To reserve a place or enquire about volunteering please phone, cllr Louisa Lewis on 01225 374232 or 07492 693671; or email: melkshamdining@gmail.com Picture: The Melksham Community Dining team outside Bowerhill Village Hall – (L-R) Mark Harris, Dee Macleod, Louisa Lewis, and Chris Broom.

One Response to Come dine with us for free! New Melksham charity offers free meals and a chance for a chat

  1. Margaret Coombs

    October 12, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    Do you need a volunteer tomorrow?

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