Salford charity Inspiring Communities Together (ICT) is living up to its name by hosting lunches to bring isolated people together.

The first Lunch and Learn on Friday February 14 was laid on to encourage the breaking down of barriers in the Salford community, particularly for older residents and users of The Orchard, a rehabilitation centre for people seeking recovery from substance abuse where the event took place.

The get together was hopefully the first of many and was part of ICT’s Ambition for Ageing programme.

Maria Knowles-Bradley (left) and Andrea Whelan (right). Image credit: Aroob Raja

Development worker Andrea Whelan said: “Ambition for Ageing is about combatting loneliness and isolation, social eating, older people having a voice, socialising together, and breaking down barriers.

“The initial thought was that we encourage people to eat together. It doesn’t matter whether they are old people or people who are going through rehabilitation. We want to break down barriers and bring people together.”

Infographic created by Aroob Raja

The lunch was a success, with older members of the community taking part in a quiz for Valentine’s Day and learning about eating well and malnutrition.

Andrea added: “We’ve had eight older people, and I noticed there were a couple of guys sat on the side, having a brew. And they were listening, but maybe next time, when we do it again, they’ll join in.

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“It’s really important that we have places like this where we can come together, whether it’s older people, whether it’s middle-aged people, people from the community, people tackling drug abuse and alcohol abuse. I just think that it’s a place where you can come in and not assume.”

ICT organises many events for members of the community, including Tea and Chat, Yogurt Pots Childcare and Family Cooking Activities. These are held at different community centres all across Salford.

Neighbourhood development worker Lynn Holden said: “You should join in because there’s a lot of people who maybe don’t know that this exists, so it would be good for people to come. It reduces isolation, you can make new friends, learn about The Orchard Centre itself, learn about each other, and it’s also raising awareness for some of the projects ICT are doing as well.”

Image credit: Aroob Raja

Jean Mort from Ordsall, who attended the lunch, said: “It’s important for everybody to find somewhere, you needn’t be lonely. There are some people who are introverts that want their own company, but me, I don’t want to be lonely. I want to get out and about while I can, and I’ve got some brilliant friends here […] you needn’t be lonely, there’s lots going on.”

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ICT’s plan is to hold this lunch monthly at The Orchard, Langworthy Road South, for residents and centre users to integrate and get to know each other better. More volunteers are needed to help with the lunches and other events. Anyone interested can contact ICT on 01617433625.

Main image credit: Aroob Raja

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