In the early 1990’s Oxfordshire Social Services recognised that the rising number of elderly people living in the rural villages of north Oxfordshire had little or no support compared to their contemporaries living in the major towns where Day Centres provided support serving meals and social contact.
At the same time some of the senior pupils at Sibford School, in line with their Quaker ethos, were studying vocational courses preparing for careers in vocational work. These courses included catering, business, horticulture and health and care. Each of these courses had a practical requirement and the Health and Care course was led by the Head of Sixth Form, Gill Manthorpe. The Fielding Boarding House, where Gill lived with her family, afforded ideal accommodation where the students could gain some practical experience in understanding and offering elderly care. Judith Weeks, who worked for Social Services, was also a parent with a child at Sibford School who was taking the Health and Care Course. An invaluable connection was made. Sibford School could provide a safe environment for elderly people who lived in the rural villages around Sibford and who would benefit from the much-needed social contact. Fielding Day Centre was born in April 1992.
The school minibus, driven by Gill provided transport, Sibford School provided meals and the pupils prepared the friendly dining room. With the additional help of village volunteers, the elderly folk enjoyed a programme of games, quizzes, coffee, lunch and tea plus the chance to meet up and chat together. The Sixth form pupils had a first-hand opportunity to understand and observe the needs of the elderly villagers. The Day Centre in Sibford was one of the first set up in the rural communities of north Oxfordshire.
In subsequent years funding, transport and staff have been removed. What was a full day has been curtailed but with the continued support of Sibford School, a Village Lunch Club continues to this very day. Open now to all villagers over 65, lunch is served in the Village Hall every Wednesday and the members continue to value the opportunity to meet and enjoy a chat and lunch together. Members and volunteers will be celebrating their 30th anniversary with a birthday tea on 20 April. New members are always welcome – if you are interested, please contact Keith Hicks, Tel. 780 259 or email@example.com for further information.
Happy Birthday Lunch Club!