Tang Hall Community Centre sits amid one of England’s 10% most deprived areas. Issues within the community include social isolation and health inequality, and extreme poverty/families on low incomes. The cooking events we run under normal circumstances, our community cafes, and the various classes/courses delivered by those hiring our rooms, make a significant, positive contribution to these problems.
Pre-pandemic, a number of residents relied on Tang Hall Community Centre’s food events and cafes for nutritious meals (which ran on a free or pay-as-you-feel basis). The need to continue this during the pandemic was just as acute. We therefore began delivering free hot meals to residents most in need when lockdown began. The centre has approximately 30 regular volunteers who continue to organise and create 160+ hot meals each week. To put our support into further context, during Summer 2020, we delivered more than 6,000 meals to those in need.
Though we receive surplus food from Fareshare, M&S and Waitrose, we still have costs to run our weekly Food Hub (in conjunction with YourCafe), i.e. recyclable packaging, kitchen hire and missing ingredients. Each meal costs, on average, £2.20 to produce.
Though we help anyone in need within our 9,250 strong community, beneficiaries tend to be the elderly and socially isolated, the disabled and vulnerable, and those living on low wages/in poverty. Some of our residents are completely alone, with no family to help. They have no idea how to access help for life's basics; some have dementia and others wouldn't have a clue how to book a supermarket slot. A number of local families struggle to feed their children, due to reduced income - particularly during school holidays.
According to local indices, people living just a few streets away live, on average, five years longer than residents in our community, with poverty and poor diet cited as two of the causes.
Not only does Tang Hall Food Hub instil transferable skills in the volunteers who help deliver the project, it also improves the health and well-being of beneficiaries. Studies have shown that people are better equipped, physically and mentally, to tackle issues in their life if they enjoy a healthy, nutritious diet.
We take a longer-term view than such as food banks; by educating residents as to the health benefits of whole/organic foods and seasonal produce and how best to create delicious meals using such ingredients - even when on a budget - people can make positive, sustainable changes.