The Frodsham Bee Friends has long been a place where people from across the community can meet and make social connections. The organisation runs regular coffee mornings at the Cheshire town’s Parish Hall to help the community come together.
It was in this spirit that the Frodsham Bee Friends ran their 2023 Great Winter Get Together; the Friends invited people who join them for their regular coffee morning to stay on and have a free ‘soup lunch’. They firmly believe there is something special about sharing food together and the connection it provides. They planned a simple event; free soup and bread for everyone, along with cake for dessert!
The Bee Friends know it can be intimidating for someone to walk into the parish hall on their own, not knowing anyone, so they have a policy of meeting and greeting everyone who comes to one of their events. These greeters then walk the attendee to a table where they’re introduced to others and are sure to be welcomed.
One of those who came to the Great Winter Get Together Soup Lunch for the first time was Annie, a woman whose partner had died just ten weeks earlier. With no friends or family locally, she was feeling very alone. Annie had been to the local library, and it was there she found out about the Soup Lunch and decided to give it a go.
Annie was welcomed to the lunch and was quickly swept up by the conversation on her table. It emerged, as she watched her hosts inexpertly serve the soup (it was their first time doing so!) that she had formerly worked in catering and was keen to put her skills to good use.
After the soup was finished and the event had calmed down a little, the Bee Friends invited Annie into the kitchen. She says it felt like coming home and immediately volunteered to help out. The Bee Friends had no one on their team with catering experience so they keenly accepted her offer. They needed Annie and, it seems, she needed them.
The Soup Lunch was such a success that the Bee Friends have decided to extend it as an initiative, running a lunch each month alongside their other activities. Annie is a key part of this – even before becoming a formal member of the team, they ordered her an apron to make sure she felt as welcome as possible. Annie now attends other Bee Friends events as well, for a chat and companionship and sits with the people she met at her first Great Winter Get Together Soup Lunch last year.
From 12-15 January 2024, Great Winter Get Together events around the UK will connect communities and show that winter doesn’t have to be lonely.