While it is unable to open due to the coronavirus lockdown, Bedhampton Community Centre has been repurposed into a hub for LunchBank PO9, a new project launched by 13ANK community interest company to feed Leigh Park residents in need.
Led by kind-hearted Lauren Razzell from The Warren, the project sees a team preparing three meals and desserts twice a week per person at no cost to them at all, with around 25 families currently receiving help.
Mum-of-three Lauren said: ‘When this Covid-19 started affecting everyone I messaged and said I want to help.
‘I couldn’t just sit back and watch people struggle and not have food because they’re worried about going out.
‘Meeting a lot of these elderly and vulnerable people has really opened my eyes, it’s really sad.’
It is a real family effort with trained chef John, Lauren’s dad, cooking the meals on a Sunday and Wednesday and her siblings Sophia and Yiannis helping with deliveries.
Relationships have been built up with Morrisons, as well as restaurants and schools forced to close, meaning volunteers can take on stock which would have been wasted.
Originally set to launch later this year, LunchBank Po9 had to get started earlier than planned due to the current situation.
Darren Mckenna, director of 13ANK, said: ‘We like to think we respond creatively to need and adapt to support one another using all of the skills readily available in our community. So far this story is ringing true with this project.
‘I am battle hardened and cynical, I’ve worked front line with food poverty and social deprivation for almost a decade but being part of such a big vibrant team of just everyday people like you or me all rallying together and providing meals on such a scale and on a budget of zero left me in tears. I’m just so proud of our community.’
To support the project, food items can be dropped to Bedhampton Community Centre on weekdays from 9am to 5pm, you can donate at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lunchbankpo9 or visit the LunchBank Po9 Facebook page.