Laughter and chat as social groups return

Luton Irish Forum (LIF) started welcoming members back to its social clubs last week (from 17th May) – to the absolute delight of volunteers and staff as well as club attendees.

A lively bingo session was the first group back on Tuesday (18th) morning with the Emerald Pipe Band practising together for the first time in more than a year that evening. Other members enjoyed additional bingo sessions on the Wednesday, the ‘tea and chat’ group on Thursday and Friday’s art class, all back in the LIF centre on Hitchin Road in Luton.

“Right through the pandemic we continued to provide much needed welfare advice and support to locals and some groups met by Zoom, but we’re so thrilled to have our members coming back in to the social groups now. It’s just wonderful to hear all the chatter and laughter again,” said Noelette Hanley, Chief Executive Officer at LIF.

“We’re limiting numbers by pre-booking to enable social distancing, wearing face coverings and have other measures in place to maintain our Covid-Safe building. For the time being calligraphy and Irish language groups are continuing by Zoom, and choir will return soon. Things are not back to where we were but it’s been a great start.”

One of the first through the door was Rose Pender who said: “I’m delighted to be back. The Forum is amazing, helps so many people. Definitely glad they (social clubs) are open again.”

Eddie is one of a few attendees who isn’t Luton-based, he gets two buses to travel from his home. “Getting to the Forum is hard but well worth the effort, I really look forward to going there. I enjoy meeting other people, having a chat and a joke. It’s nice to get involved.”

The volunteers who run LIF’s social groups are part of the volunteer team which were awarded the prestigious QAVS last June, the equivalent of an MBE for voluntary groups. The charity hopes that the planned award ceremony for volunteers will take place this July.

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