“It means a lot to be here”: elderly Otley residents reunite after seven months of lockdown

Members of an elderly citizens’ club in Otley have been reunited after spending seven months apart due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Last week, the charity Otley Action for Older People (OAOP) restarted its Thursday lunch club for the first time since the virus struck in March.

Older people were able to enjoy a hot meal inside the town’s local church while catching up with fellow community members who only recently stopped shielding.  

Because the Thursday lunch club is run by a charity it is exempt from the rule of six.

However, two-metre social distancing rules are maintained, and masks are worn by all staff members and lunch-goers until they are seated.

Catherine Greenwood, one of the lunch club organisers, said: “It’s daunting having new rules and regulations, and I worry about keeping everybody safe, but we’ve adapted.

“The six-month lockdown has been really detrimental to people’s mental wellbeing and I think people are just so pleased to be back.”

Yesterday, more than ten elderly citizens attended the second ever post-lockdown lunch club.

For some the occasion marked their first time leaving the house in seven months.

Yorkshire Voice

Jeff Adamson, 98, said: “It’s very nice to be able to come in for meals again and also to have conversations, which a lot of people are short of.

“To be able to socialise again is a big help for your mentality. You can now converse with people on different levels which is really good.”

Michael Noble, 75, said: I used to come to the lunch club before lockdown when there were more people but unfortunately we have to separate now.  

“The lockdown was terrible really because you couldn’t see your loved ones… It means a lot to be here.”

Around 80 per cent of Thursday lunch club members have now returned and Catherine hopes that in time everyone will be able to sit and eat together again.

She said: “People are just so pleased to be back. When we went to canvas people (about returning) we didn’t know what they were going to say.

“But everyone was so quick to say ‘yes, please include me I want to get back out there.’

“We were quite surprised – we thought maybe people would be more reluctant, which is understandable. But everyone’s just been so keen to get back out.”

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