Big Heart Lunch Club would love more volunteers

Big Heart Lunch Club would love more volunteers

Since June 2020, the Old Saw Mill Community Café in Back River Street have been cheffing up hearty meals for Congleton Town Council to deliver to people living in Congleton who for a variety of reasons may be struggling to cook a meal for themselves.

The scheme subsidised by Congleton Town Council has seen its numbers increase due to residents self-isolating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-COVID members would normally attend the luncheon clubs operating from the United Reform Church and at St John’s Community Centre in Buglawton.

The team are seeking more volunteers to help with the growing demand for its home cooked food. Currently the council along with four volunteers deliver a main meal plus a desert to the homes of 80 local people every Friday.

Peter Aston, of the Old Saw Mill said: “We would like to expand our team of volunteers to 10 people, we have a good system in place whereby each volunteer delivers approximately 10 meals to their area each week. This way residents see the same face delivering their food and if welcomed the opportunity to spend a little time with them for a chat. It has become much more than just a delivery service. Many of our members look forward to the social interaction.”

Volunteers need to be DBS checked and capable of handling money when taking payment for meals. Full training will be given on a variety of issues. The meals need to be collected from the Old Saw Mill between 8.30am and 9.30am every Friday, insulated bags are provided for the safe storage of the meals whilst being delivered. People interested in joining this team should contact Peter Aston on 07971 805372 in the first instance.

It is not to late for Congleton residents who are eligible to register with the scheme. The meals consist of a meat or vegetarian option plus a dessert. They arrive chilled with a three day ‘shelf life’ ready to be heated up in the microwave or oven. The meals are usually offered at the subsidised cost of £4 per person. To find out more call Congleton Town Council on 01260 270350 ext. 1.

For more information please contact Jackie MacArthur at Congleton Town Council on 07535 26981

Forthcoming Friday Meals

Below is a list of the meals for the next few weeks. The food is made on a Thursday and delivered by volunteers on a Friday morning. Please contact us by the Wednesday to have a meal delivered in the same week. 

4th June
Bangers and mash with peas carrots and onion gravy
Veg bangers and same as above
Homemade Rice Pudding

11th June
Fish pie cauliflower broccoli
Quorn chicken and veg pie
Apple crumble & custard

18th June
Roast beef dinner, mash, roast, peas, carrots, stuffing & Yorkshire pud
Nut roast with the above
Chocolate tray bake and choc sauce

25th June
Meat & potato pie, mash, mushy peas & Gravy
Veg pie, mash mushy peas and veg gravy
Victoria tray bake and custard


Cafe opening on the 17th May

With all the Covid turmoil elsewhere in the world we’re fingers crossed that we really will be opening in May! So, we’re busy painting and decorating the Saw Mill ready for Monday the 17th May. We’ve decided to give the cafe a new look, fresh colours to try to make it feel like a breath of fresh air; remember Covid doesn’t seem to like the fresh air! We’re giving everywhere a good clean too over the next 3 weeks as we’ve been largely closed for 12 months. Put it in your diaries to come and visit us as soon as we’re open, we’re looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Big Heart Lunch Club Australia Link!

Congleton has a long established ‘Big Lunch Club’ serving meals to socially isolated people by volunteers providing lunch at 2 locations – United Reform Church and St John’s Community Centre.

During the pandemic these meals have been provided via a ‘meals on wheels’ service, up to 80 meals per week, and 96 Christmas Lunches delivered on Christmas Eve. The food is prepared by The Old Saw Mill on Back River Street.


Participants pay £4 per meal for a main and pud delivered chilled with cooking and allergen information. Congleton Town Council support the scheme by delivering the chilled food on Friday mornings.

We always look for ways to extend this service to as many socially isolated people in the town as we can find, but we never expected this kind of communication via Australia!

One of the scheme organisers, Alison Wright, told us: ‘I spoke to a Congleton lady last night. Do you know how she found out about the meals?

Her granddaughter in Australia saw details on Facebook and spoke to her mum in Bristol who then put the lady in touch with the Town Council.’

How about that as a demonstration of the positive power of social media!

If you know of someone that you think would benefit from such a meal each week, then ring 01260 270350, ext 1 to apply, we would love to serve you!

Peter Aston commented ‘provision of healthy food is top of health and social agendas currently and the Old Saw Mill is proud to play its part by providing this extension to the town’s Big Lunch Club that delivers a small but significant step towards providing people with one healthy meal per week.’

Last Christmas

In previous years, the OSM has held a Christmas Lunch party at the Old Saw Mill for elderly and vulnerable people, serving up to 42 people.

This year The Old Saw Mill has been working with the Town Council to cook and deliver over 50 two course meals every Friday to the elderly in and around Congleton since last July, our Big Heart Lunch Club meals on wheels . With Christmas approaching, the OSM staff and volunteers decided to provide a meal on Christmas Eve which could be reheated on Christmas Day. News of this reached various Congleton Facebook pages, and within 48 hours the community had donated enough money to provide 40 further Christmas meals for those most in need or facing celebrating Christmas alone. And so it was that nearly 100 Christmas meals with pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce complete with traditional Christmas pudding were delivered by staff and volunteers from the Town Council including David McGifford, Chief Officer.

Alison Wright, Co op Member Pioneer for Holmes Chapel and Congleton has been volunteering with the OSM to help with the administration of the Friday meal delivery service, and was able to telephone 25 of the recipients of the Christmas meals on Christmas Day and without exception, everyone was delighted with their meals. “It was a real treat to have a Christmas dinner that I didn’t have to plan, shop for or cook” said one resident. Another said “You have no idea how much I miss having home cooked meals since my wife passed away”. And one lady cried as she said “I had no idea anyone cared, I thought I had been forgotten by everyone”.

Alison said “I really felt the meal delivery really helped our older people make Christmas 2020 special when they have been isolating for so long, and faced celebrating this traditionally family occasion alone. The generosity of the local people donating money for these meals was mind blowing. It enabled us to double the number of people we were able to reach, including 15 of the staff working at Congleton War Memorial Hospital on Christmas Day. From everyone I would like to pass on their sincere thanks and gratitude”.

Peter Aston reflected on the fact that since 2016 the cafe had served Christmas Lunch to 20/40 people each year and was afraid that this year we would let people down but using the cafe’s established Meals on Wheels service sending out the nearly 100 meals including Christmas Hampers had meant that The Old Saw Mill had continued the service through thick and thin! He especially wanted to thank both the several kind individual donations and the £100 donation from Congleton Lions the cafe had received to provide the meals.