With so many people in South East London needing support at the best of times, it is no surprise that vulnerable people have been left at risk during the coronavirus pandemic. For many people, arranging meals can be challenging, but this is why it is comforting to know Greenwich’s response to the problem has been swift and effective.
The charity which has led the local programme which delivers hundreds of high-quality homemade meals is the Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency. The GCDA has instructed their chefs to work on the production line, and with the help of many local cafes and restaurants, meals have been created to ensure vulnerable local people are supported.
This is a time to stand together
GCDA coordinator Christina Reynolds said: “We’re so proud of our chef Brian Emmons, his assistants Titilope and Nicola, and of all the amazing volunteer cooks who’ve been working flat out to help us keep up with demand. We’re making and freezing up to 500 portions a day for delivery to vulnerable individuals and community groups who’ve come through the borough’s referral scheme. We aim to produce really good food using high quality surplus ingredients that have come from the charity FareShare as well as from local food businesses whose generosity has been amazing. Tasty, nutritious food is one of the best ways of showing we care for our local community.”
As well as their own kitchen, the GCDA has team up with partners such as The Clockhouse Community Centre, located in Woolwich, to ensure they can meet demand.
There is a strong community spirit in Greenwich
The GCDA programme head Gary Mack has also spoken about cooking during lockdown. Gary spoke about his Distance Dining on BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours, saying; “I really missed the sense of community that comes from sharing food, something that’s always been at the heart of what GCDA is about. Initially I was dropping off essentials to a few friends whilst doing my daily exercise or weekly shop, but soon I started adding in little treats, like some homemade bread.”
This expanded to a more substantial collective work, as Gary explains; “I asked some of those living close by if they’d be interested in preparing one communal dish a week and splitting it into portions to share and was surprised when they all jumped at the chance! I ordered us glass containers which can go straight into the oven and we time deliveries to fit in with our work commitments, dropping off at a distance. We now have five home-cooked meals a week and love sharing our reactions to each other’s food. It’s really helped us all feel cared for – a hug on a plate.”
Local groups achieve more when working together
While these are challenging times, the way various groups have come together in and around the South East of London is a blueprint for partnership work in the future. The work carried out by the local borough council, the GCDA and the Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) is an example of how to ensure food is supplied to people that need it in difficult circumstances.
We believe the community spirit in and around Greenwich is a significant factor in why people want to live here. Yes, there are lush open spaces, a range of transport options and fantastic homes, but people are looking for more when they buy a house.
Anyone looking to live in a community where they know there is support on offer will find Greenwich and surrounding areas to be of interest.
If you are looking for guidance on the housing market or local matters, please get in touch. At Hunters Greenwich, we are keen to provide as much support and guidance as we can in the local community, so please contact us today.