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A Year in Review: Highlights of 2023

Updated: Jan 26

A lot happened last year and here is our list of things which made us happy, proud and even more focused on #EnrichingCommunities:



1. We opened a new Canteen


We closed our Battersea kitchen permanently in 2022, so it was great to open a new Community Canteen at the start of 2023, in partnership with Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing. Now we have Canteens running in Clapham, Elephant & Castle and Tooting.

 

2. We helped more people feel connected


With our army of volunteers we cooked for more than 3,100 guests in 2023, helping people to feel less isolated, and reducing social exclusion.
Our guest survey showed that 84% of guests made friends at our canteens, and 24% reported cooking a meal for others since joining us for lunch. They made real freinds that last outside of our meals.
 
3. We offered a warm space

2023 was a difficult year for everyone. With the Cost of Living challenge and inflation at a high, our guests came to the Canteens earlier just to keep warm and have a nice cup of tea.
“I am an old woman and don’t want to sit at home all day on my own. The cost of electricity is terrible — I have to sit under a blanket at home, but when I come to the Canteen I meet my friends and don’t need to put the heating on.” Bernadette, guest at Clapham.
 
4. We worked with a record number of volunteers

Almost 800 people volunteered at our Canteens, racking up a whopping 4,800 hours, or 200 days. All of these efforts meant we were able to serve nearly 10,000 dishes and 85% of them volunteers rated their experience as ‘Excellent’.
 
5. Our Canteens reduced landfill waste

We have been working with local markets, supermarkets and independent traders since our inception. Remarkably we redirected over 6 tonnes of food away from landfill. That’s the same weight as one hippopotamus per Canteen!
 
7. The Food Bus supported families in Wandsworth and Lambeth

Our innovative Food bus project kept children and families from the breadline. Becasue our fresh fruit and vegetables are 25% cheaper on the Food Bus, more people close to crisis shopped with us. And people didn’t just come for the savings:
“The best aspect is that I feel looked after and supported as a Mum. The staff are super kind and understanding.” Wandsworth resident
 
8. Our mobile green grocer family grew

We purchased, and converted, a milk float into our Food Float. The electric vehicle is smaller, eco-friendly and a fantastic support to the Food Bus. This means we will be adding new stops to our route this year and so much more!
 
9. We supported parents and children during the holidays

Parents gave great feedback, including:
“I am always trying to find nice activities during the school holidays, and it is the perfect place. They provide cool activities and they always give us something nice to eat, a coffee for the Mums, and we can do a healthy and affordable shop!”
 
10. We supported access to fresh fruit for families

The Food Bus team ran two events at school summer fetes with the aim of introducing children to fruit they may not normally have access to. Through creating fruit smoothies with the kids and providing recipe cards to more than 200 parents, they helped encourage healthy activities at home.
 
11. We won an award

In November, our CEO Kemi, picked up a prestigious national award, acknowledging Be Enriched’s remarkable endeavours in addressing the issue of healthier eating among vulnerable groups.
“We were delighted to recognise the amazing work Be Enriched is doing for vulnerable people in the community.” Bridget Benelam, British Nutrition Foundation.
 
12. It was our 10th birthday!

In September, we marked 10 years of Be Enriched with a get together for our supporters, longest serving volunteers, and many friends.
Kemi said: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude for a decade of unwavering support, and we look forward to another remarkable ten years ahead.”
 
During 2024, we hope more people will show their support, shop with us, volunteer in the kitchen, or provide a donation as we continue to enrich communities across Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth.
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