Updated: Apr 27, 2021
Since we opened our doors for guests one Friday in 2013, hundreds of guests have sat at our tables and enjoyed a hot, freshly cooked meal. In that time, almost as many volunteers have offered their time and skills to cook those meals and serve them, restaurant style, at table. Friends are made, skills are shared and bellies are filled. Food is just a wonderful way to bring people together.
Millions of tons of food are thrown away every year, which is both wasteful and immoral, when so many people are going hungry. From the outset, we’ve been supported at first by small local grocers who gave us the fruit and vegetables they couldn’t sell, and more recently, by organisations like City Harvest who distribute surplus food to charities like ours. Sainsburys has been a consistent partner, again with food near its use-by date, or items donated by customers in their collection bins.
Every now and then, we do an informal survey of the guests to find out they come to us every week. Socialising, interacting with the staff and volunteers, and of course the food are the three top answers. Volunteers would say the same, because the friendly, positive atmosphere, the chance to see other people and chat, and the feeling of belonging to something is true for staff and guests alike.
Many of our guests are vulnerable - through age, mental health issues or circumstances. Knowing we’ll always be there, every Friday, means that people who can’t come for a while for personal reasons can return to us at any time and be welcomed back.
Since lockdown started, we’ve really missed those familiar faces! But we’ve maintained a seamless service by delivering a weekly bag of groceries and a cooked meal. The numbers in need have certainly grown as people are impacted by the current economic climate. As soon as it’s safe, we’ll start welcoming them back to our tables, new faces and old, and continue our work at the heart of the community.