A Wantage café has created a new lunch group to address and help prevent social isolation in the Wantage and Grove communities.

The club takes place at Down to Earth Café on the third Saturday of every month and is primarily for those who are of or past retirement age.

The club provides a social space to cook and share a meal with others, thus addressing loneliness.

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The idea for the club came from both café owner Kate Farrington, and Jo Harvey from community group Sustainable Wantage, who have previously collaborated on other projects.

Ms Farrington, who also runs a weekly community café at the venue helping to prevent isolation, said: “Social isolation has been a problem for some time now, but it was really highlighted during Covid lockdowns.

"Several people locally of retirement age live alone, it's something I’ve picked up on since running the café, as they may for instance have lost a partner.

“It’s a difficult time of year for everybody as people are less likely to get out and about when it’s dark and cold. This club encourages individuals to get out and meet one another.

“At the lunch club, those who come along are taken to the kitchen, and using surplus food, we cook a delicious meal every time.

“We’re open to ideas, so people are welcome to cook whatever they like and we cater for those with intolerances or who are gluten free and so forth.”

Ms Harvey obtained a Community Capacity Grant from the Oxfordshire Community Foundation (linked with the county council), which made the lunch club a reality.

Ms Harvey said: “This is something we’ve really wanted to do for some time. I’ve worked with Kate many times and knew she could provide a cooking venue.

“This is a great project as it allows people to meet and make a meal together. They learn new skills, forge bonds and can build friendships.”

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The next lunch club will take place on Saturday, February 17.

Forms for those wishing to join can be picked up from Down to Earth Café in Stirling Close or The Mix Community Space in Mill Street.

Following the first lunch club this month, Ms Farringdon added: “The first club went really, really well.

"Those who attended said they would be coming back, which I see as a huge positive. I encouraged them to bring friends as it’s always good to spread the word.

“For the time being, the club is set to run until the end of the year so there are 11 sessions left. People are always welcome to come back time and time again."