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New free weekly lunch club in Old Cwmbran attracting over 30 people

A new weekly lunch club that started four weeks ago is already attracting over 30 people.

The Salvation Army in Old Cwmbran is the venue for the ‘Winter Warmer Walk-in’. There is no need to book, you just turn up and find a seat every Monday from 12pm to 2pm.

I popped along to today’s lunch and was treated to 90 minutes of chat and table service. It’s a simple menu of sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes. You can choose whatever you want to eat and enjoy top-ups of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

I counted 25 to 30 people enjoying themselves today but organisers told me some sessions have seen them feed over 30 people in two-hours.

a teenage boy volunteers at a lunch club
Cory, 17, volunteers every Monday serving food and drinks to residents

Cory, aged 17, is one of the volunteers. He spent the session ferrying meals and drinks back and forth from the kitchen with a smile on his face. He knew many of the residents by name. Five women were busy in the kitchen but I did manage to get them to pause for a moment for photo.

five women in a kitchen
Volunteers in the kitchen at the Salvation Army

Jayne Horne, from the Salvation Army, said: “One Friday night I was in the house and I was seeing the news and listening to all the problems with the fuel crisis and the cost of living and suddenly, I suppose it’s because I’m a Christian, I think it’s from God, and God said ‘you’ve got to do something to help people’. I mulled it around in my brain thinking because I’m a full-time carer to my husband, this is hard for me to do.”

woman holding bowl of orangers
Jane Horne, from the Salvation Army in Old Cwmbran

She spoke to her husband and the ministers in the Salvation Army who encouraged her to get a team together so she set about organising the first event.

“We didn’t have any money so our ministers have looked and got grants and we’ve had donations from people. I then set up ordering everything for it and set a budget until next March, so I work within that.”

All the food is bought to minimise waste and all packaging is recycled.

people sat at a table
Residents at the event

She said: “Our councillors Elizabeth Haynes and Catherine Bonera have been fantastic. They are also involved once a month- the next time is 19 December.” The pair are in the hall during the session to chat to residents and answer any council queries. They also bring a supply of recycling bins.

Jane said: “We’ve been able to help people who are lonely, older people who are struggling with their bills We’ve had homeless people come in. Everybody has pulled together and is working so hard and we have a steady stream of the same people and we touch base with new people every week.

“We are now thinking about Christmas. We’ve had donations from the councillors again to help us. We want to make Christmas as special for people as possible because a lot of people are struggling and they need help.

volunteers at lunch club

“We keep it as warm as possible. Most of this is funded by this church. We’ve got donations as well but we went out in faith that we would be able to do it and so a lot of the funding has come from this church and generous donations from other people as well.”

The importance of these venues was shown by the added support they offered to a man who came in today and said he was homeless. Cllr Bonera spent an hour chatting to him and linking him up with the homelessness service at the council. He was able to charge his mobile phone during his visit and a man walked into the hall to give him a tent.

Where is the Salvation Army Hall in Old Cwmbran?

Two women eat lunch at a table

a menu
The menu at the Winter Warmer Walk-in lunch club at the Salvation Army in Old Cwmbran
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New free weekly lunch club in Old Cwmbran attracting over 30 people

a roomful of people at a lunch club
The Salvation Army in Old Cwmbran run a weekly lunch club every Monday