MORE THAN 500 people have sat down to a good meal as part of a new initiative inspired by The Yorkshire Post to bring together those who are lonely or isolated.
The first Friendship Lunch was held at The Durham Ox in Crayke in February, inspired by our award-winning campaign Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic.
Last month we reported how the lunches were being rolled out to six more venues across North Yorkshire in a bid to help more people suffering from loneliness or social isolation become part of a welcoming community.
Each of the new venues has now held its inaugural Friendship Lunch, with each welcoming dozens of people.
Michael Ibbotson, managing director of Provenance Inns, which owns The Durham Ox, came up with the idea. The six new venues, which include The Oak Tree Inn at Helperby, and The West Park Hotel, Harrogate, which held lunches on Monday, are all part of the group.
He said: “It is great to see so many people are attending them and we have established a group of people who are going to more than one of the lunches across the different Inns.
“It is really important that people keep spreading the word and coming to have a good lunch with us. Thank you to all of those people who have attended, introduced people and all our volunteer drivers for picking people up.
“Over 500 people have attended our lunches in a matter of months and we are really encouraged by the great feedback, we will continue with them as a regular event in all of our Inns and Hotels, we hope by the end of this year over 2,000 people will have attended our Friendship Lunches.”
Guy Richardson, general manager at The Crown and Cushion in Welburn, which held its first lunch on June 1, said: “We had such a great turn out for our first Friendship lunch with massive support from the village that we have already put in a next date for the next lunch. It is so nice to be able to support and host events such as this bringing the community together.”
The Friendship Lunches will be held monthly at each of the venues, which also include The Carpenters Arms at Felixkirk; The Black Bull Inn at Moulton and The Punch Bowl Inn at Marton cum Grafton.
The lunches have been supported by parish councils, groups and charities including Age UK, and the pubs can help with transport for those who need it.