“The need isn’t going away anytime soon”: that’s the message of Kath Joslin who helps run a holiday lunch club for struggling families in Dorchester.

Last year the holiday lunch club at the Dorford Centre helped around 70 families – this year that number is expected to rise to 100.

With schools set to break up for the summer next month, the task of providing hot nutritious meals can become a burden for families with children entitled to free school meals.

The lunch club was launched to donate food to those families to help alleviate some of the pressures they face.

Kath Joslin, who helps run the group, said: “The group has been running for several years now, it’s had several evolutions. But we find that the plan we have at the moment works best for the families.

“We will be running on four Thursdays in August for families who are entitled to free school meals. They are given a form through their child’s school which lets them know about us. They come in and collect the food, which is a combination of tinned or packaged food and fresh food bought from the supermarket. It’s usually basics like mince, pasta and rice, so that families are able to make six or seven meals each week.

“The lunch club is also an opportunity for families to come and speak to us and enjoy some tea and cake while their children play with some of the toys. It’s also a time for them to chat about what’s happening in their lives and if we feel it’s appropriate, we might say have you thought about going to the credit union or the Citizens Advice Bureau, whatever they need.”

Dorset Echo:

Organising committee of the Holiday Lunch Club: Sally Huntingdon, Kath Joslin, Karen Weir and John Weir


She added: “When we first started the lunch club we would perhaps get between 25 and 30 families. Last year we had around 70 families and this year we are expecting 100 families. It’s not a problem that’s going to go away any time soon.”

“The families are extremely grateful. We get cards from their children saying thank you and last year one child said ‘good we can have meat tonight’.

“One of the things that the general public think is that they are charlatans and why can’t they help themselves? but the thing is a lot of them are working. They are not taking advantage, there are people who are really trying very hard to keep going and find it difficult for a number of reasons. Perhaps there has been a delay in their universal credit or they’re on a zero hours contract and can only work part time.”

The lunch club is supported by Dorchester Town Council and Dorchester Poverty Action as well as Dorchester Relief in Need. The group is always looking for more donations. If you have any tinned food you would like to donate, drop it into Dorchester Baptist Church.