Every week, our Community Canteens make a difference to the lives of so many. Volunteers come together to use their culinary know-how to turn surplus food into a three course feast, spend time with others and learn new skills. Residents from Elephant and Castle and Tooting get the chance to sit with their neighbours, share stories, feel connected, as well as enjoy a hot, healthy meal. Over the last 12 weeks we have also welcomed a young adult from Orchard Hill College, a Special Education Needs School for young people, helping him to improve his confidence, skills and knowledge.
Since early April, 16 year old Kadeem has been a regular at the Tooting Community Canteen, learning and lending a hand with any task asked of him. Throughout his time with Be Enriched, he’s got stuck in with preparing the dining room, organising the tables, chairs and place settings, serving the food, while also getting to grips with new activities in the kitchen. In particular this has included Kadeem learning about vegetable preparation, soup making, and picking up tips on how to bake cakes.
It's been clear to our team how much Kadeem has developed during his experience, and when asked what he feels he’s learnt during his time with us, he highlighted the importance of good hygiene, especially cleaning down the tables during the service and putting the right food in the correct bins. He’s also picked up ways to remember how to set a table, using Beyonce’s hit song to ensure forks always go “to the left, to the left”.
It hasn’t all been hard work, and when Kadeem was asked what stood out from his time with us, he highlighted how much he enjoyed talking with the volunteers, and the guests. He also appreciated trying his, and the others, food (occasionally getting to take home some leftovers). Given how many services he’s been involved in, we had to ask which dish was his favourite, and were surprised to hear it was one of our less traditional offerings - beetroot soup!
For us at Be Enriched, it’s been a pleasure to have Kadeem join us for the last three months, and we hope his experience will inspire others to consider volunteering to help us enrich communities through food. We are open to all, including other students looking to learn more and develop their skills.
It’s also fair to say we hope we’ll see Kadeem come back and join us another time. We are, as Beyonce, says ‘Crazy in Love’ with him.