Community money - invested by the community

Hot Square Meal Project – Final Report

Hot Square Meal Project – Report

On Weds 25th March our worker sent round an email asking how we could invest some of our money as a way to help out the community in this difficult time. Within a few hours we had come up with a project idea to provide hot square meals to people in need, using a local café for the food and local volunteers to deliver it. It took a couple of weeks to get the details nailed down – such as the legal stuff and how to safeguard the volunteers and the people we were helping. From then on we rolled it out exceptionally quickly and smoothly…

Here are the headlines:

28 local people helped directly (& many more if you consider the people close to them who usually would support them but couldn’t due to lockdown).

740 meals cooked and delivered over 9 weeks.

8 volunteers provided a combined amount of around 135 hours of time (if they were to charge minimum wage this would be over £1,000 of work!).

Value added: by sourcing the food from Riverbank Cafe we helped a local business stay open and provide employment to their members of staff.

Riverbank Cafe owner, Shane Kitchen, also generously provided 64 free meals for our project and even gave some to others who didn’t quite qualify for our service!

Food from Riverbank Cafe about to be delivered. This is the only photo we have from the project! The volunteers were too busy delivering the meals to be taking pictures!

We’re very pleased to say that given that we as a Partnership have no experience in setting up and running a project like this, our initial response to Covid19 was exceptionally quick and professional!

Since we got the green light to begin we have delivered over 700 meals and at our peak we were providing meals to 20 people some days.

Many of the people we helped were elderly, disabled or ill with very limited support from others. Because they were unable to get out of the house and supermarket delivery slots were extremely difficult to get hold of, they were struggling to make a healthy meal. Our project helped them enormously in a time of extreme stress for them.

One elderly person who had recently had a minor heart attack and was also in the process of recovering from a broken hip described the meals as “a real lifesaver” and gave the upmost thanks to the “incredibly friendly volunteers and to Riverbank café for such healthy food”.

Another person we helped was caring for their partner who had just started chemotherapy before lockdown happened. The situation was very difficult for them to cope with, and sourcing food as well as cooking it was almost impossible. The meals we provided came at a time that helped them through the worst of it. They are now able to get out and about and both were keen to develop their independence again.

One other story we want to share is of a single parent with mental health issues, whose extreme anxiety about Covid was preventing them from going out, and delivery slots were impossible to get. The meals helped them feel like they were still connected to the community and that people cared about them. Eventually they were able to get food delivered from the supermarket and become self-sufficient again. Another great part of this story is that the young child, who is a very fussy eater, absolutely loved the meals and it has encouraged them to eat a much wider variety of food! (Good work Riverbank Cafe for making such tasty meals)

All the people who received the meals have expressed their gratitude for the service and in their own ways have stressed how important it has been for them not just for their physical health but also their mental health – feeling connected and cared for by the community.

We must say a massive thank you for the generosity of our volunteers who made this possible and helped create a community of care when it was most needed – John Bull, Sue Hill, Robin Moss, Emily Merco, Vince Cox, Carmen Goodwin, Sally Carmac-Bailey & Anthony Dutton.

Another big thank you should go to Janine Woodward-Grant from the Carers’ Centre, who spent a long time advising on the practicalities and carrying out the due diligence on the project proposal, making sure we would meet the requirements of our funder (Local Trust) so it could go ahead as quickly as possible.

The project has now ended because people are able to get to the shops or get deliveries again, but if the situation happens again we are prepared!