Our Community Kitchen: Isolated but not alone

One volunteer putting a paper delivery bag into a plastic crate that the other volunteer is holding. Both smiling.
Together to deliver: The volunteers at OCK preparing their deliveries

Our Community Kitchen in Haddington were awarded £100,000 of National Lottery funding to help reduce isolation and loneliness through bringing people in their community together over hot meals. In this blog, Elaine Gale, from the team at ‘OCK’, tells us about the project’s new way of working in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

We are a charity that exists to reduce social isolation and loneliness for people of all ages and abilities in our local area of Haddington and Lammermuir. We normally bring up to 90 people together each week to enjoy home cooked food and help form friendships. We have stopped our usual way of working to respond to this horrendous coronavirus. Now we have to continue to change people’s lives through food, but in a different way.

We desperately needed to respond to this crisis as each person who has previously come along and started forming friendships has now been forced to stay indoors, which can make them feel even more lonelier than before.  People tell us about the power of our good home cooked food and how they feel loved and cared for, so we have changed what we were doing to ensure that those most vulnerable in our community are now delivered a free hot meal twice per week at lunch time.

The volunteers ready to deliver their meals, holding paper bags with letters spelling out ‘Made with love’

Our food is prepared and cooked in the kitchen at Haddington Bowling Club and is delivered by a wonderful team of local volunteers.  We are building up to send out 200 free hot meals into our local community over four days and we have been offered other kitchen premises at Haddington Rugby Club when we are ready to increase referrals. Our referrals come from GP’s, social work and our local day centre. People are feeling scared and lonely, and we want to help along with our local community.

I must say that the outpouring of love and support shown to us in our community is incredible. I help run OCK with a local lady Alison, and her daughter Alice who are an amazing duo who help everything run like clockwork. We would of course never be able to do this without our amazing volunteers, from our amazing cooks to the fantastic people who do food prep and delivery driving. We now have a newsletter with all of our deliveries so that people can find out what we are all doing. The newsletter is also a nice opportunity for us to share good news stories and photographs such as spring flowers blooming and lambs in nearby fields.

A volunteer wearing a blue coat and beanie hat dropping off a delivery in the rain
Come rain or shine: A volunteer kindly dropping off a delivery to a resident

As for us, we are now doing training to do kindness calls which will begin in a few weeks time. We feel this will be a wonderful and much needed service as our vulnerable people tell us they love the calls from our delivery drivers, as well as the food!

If your National Lottery funded project has been doing something different in your community and you want to share your story, email us at ScotlandComms@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk for a chance to be featured on our digital channels.

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