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The Real Junk Food Project café praised for tackling loneliness in Horsforth

by Abbey Maclure

Horsforth residents have praised the Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP) café for tackling loneliness in the local community.

The café, held at St Margaret’s parish centre in Horsforth every Monday, was set up over two years ago and uses surplus food from supermarkets to make meals for local people.

Visitors pay-as-they-feel for meals and the café has diverted around 44 tonnes of food waste from going to landfill.

Penny Pinn, TRJFP Horsforth co-ordinator, said: “We cook meals that everyone can come and eat, from young mums with children to older people.

“Everyone sits down and chats together, it’s a lovely social community café.”

Local residents praised the café for reducing social isolation in the community.

TRJFP co-ordinator Penny Pinn (right) with café vistor Mavis Hardcastle, aged 82 (left)

Mavis Hardcastle, an 82-year-old Horsforth resident, is a regular visitor who arrived early at the café to sit and chat to volunteers.

She said: “It’s important for me to get out and about.

“I’m a people person, I can’t stay in. There’s nothing to do at home.

“That’s why I come out to the Junk Food café. It’s such a pleasure, and there’s some lovely food.”

Research by Age UK found that 1.9 million older people often feel ignored or invisible.

Deborah Fletcher, who co-ordinates TRJFP Horsforth with Penny, said that the sense of community created by the café is just as important for volunteers as it is for visitors.

Eric Sugden, aged 87, TRJFP volunteer

She said: “There’s a sociable side of volunteering for everybody in the community.

“I think it makes a difference in your life as well as in other people’s.”

The project relies on around 40 active volunteers, who help with a range of tasks from the cooking and washing up to food collections.

Eric Sugden, an 87-year-old volunteer from Horsforth, lost his wife a year ago and explained how important the café has been to him.

He said: “It gets me out the house. The people in the kitchen are just lovely.

“They’ve been really good to me here.”

The café runs on donations and any profit is given back to the local community – the project donated around £5000 to different organisations this year.

Find out the risk of loneliness for people age 65+ in your area of Leeds here:

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